Researchers at QuTech, a collaboration of TU Delft and TNO, have developed a new magnetic quantum sensing technology that can image samples with atomic-scale resolution. It opens the door towards imaging individual molecules, like proteins and other complex systems, atom by atom. The team reports on their results in Nature on the 18th of December.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) are powerful and widely-used methods in material science, biology, chemistry and medicine. These methods use the fact that many atomic nuclei have a property called spin. Atomic nuclei behave like little magnets that generate tiny magnetic fields, which can be detected using antennas.
Magnetic imaging is non-invasive, can distinguish different types of atoms, and works under a wide range of conditions, including at room temperature. But current methods are limited to averaging over large volumes with large amounts of atoms, and imaging individual molecules or nano-scale structures is not possible. Researchers at QuTech have now made an important advance towards overcoming that limitation.
Source: “QuTech realises “MRI in the atomic scale”, Tim Hugo Taminiau, TU Delft