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Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Single Photon Cameras to Peer into your Brain?

At Last, Single-Photon Cameras Could Peer Into Your Brain The tech has long been stymied on how to scale it out of the lab    By Dina Genkina  in Spectrum IEEE

Superconductor-based cameras that can detect a single photon—the smallest smidgeon of light—have existed for 20 years, but they’ve remained confined to laboratories due to the inability to scale them past a few pixels. Now, a team at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Boulder, Colo., has created a 0.4-megapixel single-photon camera—400 times as large as the previous biggest camera of its type. They reported their results in a preprint they submitted to arXiv on 15 June.

Single-photon cameras, made of superconducting nanowires, measure light with unrivaled sensitivity and speed, and across an unmatched frequency range. With the leap in size, the single-photon camera is poised to transition from a lab curiosity to an industrial technology. Such cameras could find a home imaging the cosmos on the next James Webb–type telescope, measuring light in photonic quantum computers and communications, and peering into the brain with noninvasive light-based techniques.

“From a scientific perspective, this is definitely opening a new avenue in optical brain imaging,” says Stefan Carp, an associate professor of radiology at the Harvard Medical School who was not involved in the work. “Other approaches for optically mapping cortical brain flow may have lower costs, but they all have shortcomings impacting signal quality that often require complex signal processing. There is no compromise with nanowires from a performance perspective.”.... 

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