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Quantum Camera Captures "Ghosts"

For the very first time, scientists have successfully captured the images of ‘ghosts’ on film using quantum cameras.

However, the ‘ghosts’ in question aren’t the chain rattling variety of Hammer Films fame, but rather the images of entities from photons that never in fact met the objects pictured. This technology has therefore been dubbed, ‘ghost imaging’.

How it works

Ordinary cameras capture the light that bounces back from the object they are focused on. Surely it cannot be possible to photograph the image of an object from particles of light that never encountered that object in the first place? Actually, it is possible when quantum mechanics gets involved via a remarkable process called ‘quantum entanglement’.

Entanglement is the strange instantaneous link that exists between some particles even if they are separated by immense distances. No-one understands exactly how this spooky phenomenon works, but it does. Quantum cameras use two separate laser beams whose protons are entangled (think Ghostbusters here). Just one of the beams actually hits the object in the picture, but the image can still be generated when either beam meets the camera.

During the experiment, a beam of light was passed through etched stencils into cut-outs of little cats and a trident just 0.12 inches high (see image above). A second light beam, this time at a different wavelength but still entangled with the first, travelled on a separate line and bypassed the objects. Weirdly, the second light beam revealed images of the objects even though it never actually encountered them.

In conclusion

It’s hoped that the experimental idea will lead to something much more practical rather than just an intriguing demonstration in quantum mechanics. This science could bring breakthroughs in medical imaging techniques or lithography in poor light and may ultimately prove invaluable to doctors and research scientists.

 

Image source: Gabriela Barreto Lemos

 

Alison Page

About Alison Page

Alison is a small business owner, freelance writer, author and dressage judge. She has degrees in Equine Science and Business Studies. Read her full story at http://www.theladywriter.co.uk

Alison Page

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