The UMU has the first Spanish quantum technology laboratory that uses diamonds to detect diseases

MURCIA. The project obtained by the group Quantum Technology and Science from the University of Murcia (UMU) It will enable the start-up of the first laboratory in Spain for quantum technologies based on NV sensors. Javier Prior, principal investigator of the group, explains that these sensors implanted in diamonds will allow an early diagnosis of some diseases. The use of diamond in these practices is due to its properties, because “it has an optimal structure to protect the sensor”, says Prior.

Quantum sensors consist of the “implantation of a Nitrogen atom within the crystalline structure of a diamond next to which a vacancy is positioned, a ‘hole’ in the diamond structure where no atom is positioned”, explains Prior, who clarifies that “that’s where the name NV sensor comes from: the relationship between Nitrogen and vacancy, which once united give rise to said sensor”.

The sensors act like an isolated electron where its quantum state is maintained for a long time, and can be manipulated with great precision in the laboratory, “under the action of electric, magnetic and laser fields we are capable of generating the famous Schrödinger quantum state, which the Nobel Prize described as a superimposition of his cat alive and dead at the same time’”. The sensitivity of this device to any foreign agent generated by the disease “allows us to detect it in its initial stage”, adds the UMU researcher.

QuantERA is a program co-funded by the European Research Area Network (ERA-NET) in the field of quantum technologies. The network of national and regional research funding organizations spans more than 31 countries.

The program responds to the “growing need for collaborative efforts and a common funding scheme within research in quantum technologies”, declares Prior, since the highly interdisciplinary nature of this field does not allow it to depend solely on one institution or single state.

QuantERA rewards research ideas with the potential to establish and develop new lines of Quantum Technologies, with the aim of promoting “excellent research” and reinforcing European scientific leadership in this field, says the UMU researcher.

“A new generation of so-called quantum technologies is having a disruptive impact on many sectors and industries, and digitization will be one of the fields that will benefit the most from these technologies”, explains Prior; who, in addition, affirms that “a commitment by the Region of Murcia towards quantum technologies, backed by this seal of quality provided by the European initiative, could position us as leaders in quantum technologies at a European level”

Applications of this technology

Within this field there are three applications of quantum technology: simulation, used in well-controlled quantum systems to reproduce the behavior of less accessible physical systems;

computing, responsible for drastically accelerating certain complex calculations such as numerical factorization; communication, in which entangled photons are used to transmit data in a demonstrably secure manner; and lastly, sensing/metrology, used to improve the performance of physical quantity measurements.

“The start-up of the new laboratory and the control over such a cutting-edge and promising technology at a global level will allow us to work on the development of communications and quantum computing,” says Prior. Specifically, he explains, that with this funding a new generation of Nuclear Magnetic Resonators will be developed at the nanometric scale.

Nuclear Magnetic Resonators are one of the most important tools for diagnosing diseases, and “working on the development of a new generation of Resonators with atomic precision will allow us to be able to detect diseases in their very early stages”, defends the UMU researcher.

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The UMU has the first Spanish quantum technology laboratory that uses diamonds to detect diseases