The team, a collaboration between The University of Queensland and the Australian National University, believe their microscope could lead to a better understanding of the basic components of life and eventually allow quantum mechanics to be probed at a macroscopic level.
Their world-first discovery has been published online in Nature Photonics.
Team leader Associate Professor Warwick Bowen, of UQ's ARC Centre of Excellence for Engineered Quantum Systems, said the study relied on quantum interactions between the photons of light to achieve measurement precision that surpassed conventional measurement.
"In fundamental physics, it could be immediately applied towards observing phenomena in the microscopic motion of small particles that have yet to be observed and were predicted many decades ago."
In the study, the researchers used their quantum microscope to measure the cytoplasm of a live beer-brewing yeast cell and found they could achieve their measurements 64 per cent faster than with a conventional microscope.
"Unfortunately, biological samples are grilled when the power is increased too far," said Mr Taylor.
- Michael A. Taylor, Jiri Janousek, Vincent Daria, Joachim Knittel, Boris Hage, Hans-A. Bachor, Warwick P. Bowen. Biological measurement beyond the quantum limit. Nature Photonics, 2013; DOI: 10.1038/nphoton.2012.346
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