A team of researchers from Osaka City University worked with international partners to develop a reliable and precise microscope-based thermometer using quantum technology. The thermometer is so accurate that it can measure the temperature of microscopic animals. The technology can record temperature-dependent properties of quantum spins and fluorescent nanodiamonds.
Quantum sensor technology uses the sensitivity of extremely fragile quantum systems to the environment. Seven years ago, researchers used a similar technique to quantify temperatures in cultured cells. Nevertheless, the new technology can record heat and temperature that are actively involved in biological processes.
To create the device, the research team decorated the surface of nanodiamonds with polymer structures and injected them into C. elegans nematode worms, one of the most popular model animals in biology. The researchers wanted to learn the basic healthy temperature of the worms. The nanodiamonds moved quickly in the creatures. The quantum with which the monitoring algorithm was able to track the nanodiamonds and the continuously measured temperature.
The researchers induced a fever in the worms by stimulating the mitochondria with pharmacological treatment, and the quantum thermometer successfully observed the rise in temperature. Researchers say it was “fascinating”
One researcher said the team never believed that tiny worms less than a millimeter in size could have temperatures deviated from the norm and develop into a fever. The researchers say the results of their tests mark an important milestone that will determine the future direction of quantum sensing in terms of biology. The researchers will continue to perfect and improve their technology in the future.