Science, and technology, have progressed thanks to new tools that have allowed scientists and researchers to discover and interact with dimensions that are outside the range of our senses’ capabilities. Actually, I was referring to this just few days ago in another post on “augmented humans”.
For most people these tools that are the springboard for science and technology evolution remain hidden, since most of us is just seeing what is being produced and not how it is produced. However discovery and production tools are more important in the evolution path than the products themselves…
This is why I was so interested in reading this news on a new tools that is becoming available, thanks to a DARPA funded project: Quantum-Assisted Sensing and Readout (QuASAR).
Two teams of researchers (University of Stuttgart and IBM Almaden Research Centre) have developed a nanoscale magnetometer that can resolve at a scale of 10,000 protons or 125 cubic nanometers, about the size of a protein molecule.
This is a significant improvement with respect to current MRI systems that have a resolution in the order of a few microns, that is 3 orders of magnitude bigger (if you look, as you should, at the cubic dimension).
It is like having a telescope that let you see at objects 1,000 km away whilst the one you are currently use can let you see objects only as far as 1 km away. This new tool is opening up new horizons.
The progress is not just on resolution but also in cost since this nanoMRI, as they have decided to call this technology, can operate a room temperature with no need for a cooling system as present MRI does.
According to the researchers this technology has promises of application in medical field:
Support future drug development by facilitating increased understanding of the structure of proteins.
Enable detailed, three-dimensional mapping of biological molecules, with sufficient sensitivity to identify specific elements. This information could streamline assessment of inhibitor drugs against naturally occurring and bioengineered viruses.
Enable measurement of the magnetic field of firing neurons.
To me it can also represent a step in the direction os using quantum properties for storing and computation, something the researchers are not mentioning but that I feel can fall out from these results.