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Quantum sensing in a new single-molecule regime

March 1, 2018 - 11:00am
Dr. Peter Maurer
Stanford University

Quantum optics has had a profound impact on precision measurements. Recently, this has enabled probing various physical quantities, such as magnetic fields and temperature, with nanoscale spatial resolution. Such advancements in ‘quantum sensing’ have brought the elusive dream of performing nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR) on individual biomolecules closer to reality. In my talk, I will discuss the development and application of novel quantum metrological technologies to study biological systems at a single-molecule level. I will start with a general introduction to quantum sensing, with a focus on the detection of an individual 13C nuclear spin. I will then show how we can utilize such sensing techniques to control the temperature profile in living systems with subcellular resolution. Furthermore, I will introduce a multicolor electron microscopy modality that can visualize the absolute location of proteins within the context of cellular ultrastructures with up to ten nanometer spatial resolution. Finally, I will provide an outlook on how quantum sensing and single-molecule biophysics can be combined to perform NMR spectroscopy with unprecedented sensitivity, possibly down to the level of individual biomolecules.

Bio: Peter Maurer is currently a postdoctoral scholar in the physics department at Stanford University. His research focuses on the development and application of novel imaging and sensing methods that enable the investigation of biological systems that are not accessible by conventional technologies. His approach combines state-of-the-art techniques from quantum optics, quantum information technology and single molecule biophysics.

In his postdoctoral research, with Prof. Steven Chu, Peter is developing a multi-color electron microscopy technique that enables the visualization of different protein types with nanometer spatial resolution within the context of cellular nanostructures. During his Ph.D. training in Prof. Lukin's group at Harvard he utilized quantum optics and quantum information to control the spin state of nitrogen vacancy color centers in diamond and applied them to quantum information technology and bio-sensing. More specifically, Peter worked on the nanoscale temperature measurement and control within a living cell (Kucsko et al.Nature 2013), the sub-diffractional imaging and manipulation of individual spins using far-field techniques (Maurer et al. Nature Physics 2010) and the extension of the coherence time of a room temperature NV based quantum register beyond a second (Maurer et al. Science 2012).


Room 2460 A.V. Williams Building
College Park, MD 20742