Genomic Science Program
U.S. Department of Energy | Office of Science | Biological and Environmental Research Program

Probing Photoreception with New Quantum-Enabled Imaging


Kevin Crampton1, Samantha Powell1, Jory Brookreson1, Nick Black2, Saleem Iqbal2, Patrick El-Khoury1, Robert Boyd2, and James E. Evans1* (


1Pacific Northwest National Laboratory; and 2University of Rochester


This project will develop new hybrid quantum-enabled imaging platforms that combine advances in adaptive optics, quantum entanglement, coincidence detection, ghost imaging, quantum phase-contrast microscopy, and multidimensional nonlinear coherent spectromicroscopy to characterize photoreception. This approach has three main aims that are intended to be developed in parallel. The first two aims focus on developing new quantum imaging approaches in which entangled photons will be employed to investigate biological samples with increased spatial resolution (Aim 1) and detection sensitivity (Aim 2) while permitting lower flux or sample interrogation with lower-energy photons. Aim 3 focuses on using coherent (non-entangled) photons and four-wave mixing to visualize photoreception and other quantum coherent processes occurring naturally within biosystems to better track ultrafast protein dynamics and the flow of metabolites between compartments in real-time.


During the current project period, researchers installed the Leica and Olympus optical microscopes with fluorescence, coherent anti-Stokes Raman scattering, stimulated Raman scattering, and magnetic particle imaging modes. The team also installed the Picoemerald optical parametric oscillator and two Coherent lasers to be used in Aims 1–3. Work was initiated on both the ghost imaging and the quantum phase contrast imaging with milestones of developing the theory and numerical simulation for these aims as well as developing the control software for the necessary spatial light modulator. For Aim 2, researchers demonstrated the ability to perform quantum-enhanced phase imaging without coincidence counting, and for Aim 3, 1.2 picosecond quantum beats have been detected with time-resolved coherent Raman scattering. Finally, the team expressed multiple proteins involved with photoreception and have begun their structural and spectroscopic characterization, and researchers have cultured all cell types that will be imaged as part of the testing and commissioning phases. Looking forward into the next project period, plans are to finish development of two-color entangled quantum ghost imaging as well as begin applying Aims 1–3 to quantum-enabled imaging and probing of biological samples. In this poster, the team will detail the progress from the project and highlight future plans for further advancing the technologies as well as making them available to the broader research community.


A comparison of resolution between classical phase-shifting holography and quantum phase-shifting holography.

Figure 1. A comparison of resolution between classical phase-shifting holography and quantum phase-shifting holography. (a) A series of three horizontal bars with a maximum phase shift of 𝜋/2 were used to measure resolution with a spatial frequency of the bars at 13.3 lp/mm. (b) Experimental results (interferograms) indicate that only the quantum phase-shifting holography scheme can resolve the bars at this spatial frequency. Adapted from Black, A. N., et al. “Quantum-Enhanced Phase Imaging Without Coincidence Counting,” Optica. In review.

Funding Information

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is operated by Battelle for the U.S. Department of Energy under Contract DE-AC05-76RL01830. This program is supported by the U. S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, through the Genomic Science program, Biological and Environmental Research (BER) Program, under FWP 76295. The work was performed at EMSL (grid.436923.9), a DOE Office of Science User Facility sponsored by the BER Program.