Researchers in Japan have come up with a quantum thermometer that can detect minute changes in temperature even in worms. Previously it was believed that such accuracy could not be achieved.
A team of scientists from Osaka City University, Japan, has unveiled a reliable and accurate microscope-based thermometer that uses quantum technology. The device, for example, can detect the temperature-dependent properties of quantum spins in fluorescent nanodiamonds.
The researchers noted that the optical microscope is one of the main analysis tools in biology, using visible light to see small structures with the naked eye. In a modern laboratory, a fluorescence microscope is more often used – an improved version of an optical microscope with fluorescent biomarkers. Recent advances in fluorescence microscopy have allowed real-time imaging of structural details, and thus different physiological parameters in these different structures.
Using a similar method, the scientists equipped the surface of nanodiamonds with polymer structures and injected them into the nematode worms C. elegans. So they wanted to find out the average temperature of the worms. Once inside, the nanodiamonds moved quickly, but the team’s new quantum thermometry algorithm successfully tracked them and measured their temperature stably.
The worms were induced to fever by stimulating their mitochondria with pharmacological treatments. A quantum thermometer recorded an increase in temperature.
“It was fascinating to see how quantum technologies work in animals, we could not imagine that we could record the minimum temperature change in worms less than 1 mm. Our results are an important milestone that will determine the future direction of quantum sensing, ”the scientists noted.