quantum biology, fluorescence, entanglement, spectroscopy, Photodynamic therapy, microscopy

Quantum Biophotonics

We are interested in exploiting quantum technologies, entangled photons and single photon detectors, to explore biological systems. Applications are emerging for sensing and imaging as well as probing molecular dynamics in regimes unattainable with conventional (classical) approaches.

Quantum Biophotonics is an emergent field of research, and the level of precision and control afforded by recent progress in quantum technologies makes this an exciting cross-disciplinary field.

Recently, we have been awarded a prestigious SYNERGIA grant for a collaborative project Quantum Vision, which aims to investigate whether our senses, and especially our vision, are sensitive to purely quantum phenomena, like quantum interference and photon entanglement. More precisely, we propose to study whether it is possible to create some quantum states of light that would be more efficiently detected by the light-sensitive proteins found in the photoreceptor cells (rods and cones) of the retina. This ambitious project brings us together with several other teams at the University of Geneva working on Biophotonics, Medicine, Neurogenetics and Biochemistry.

Some of our previous work has looked at clinical applications, such as PhotoDynamic Therapy, where direct singlet-oxygen detection through its luminescence in the near-infrared range (1270 nm) has been a challenging task due to its low emission probability and the lack of suitable single-photon detectors. We developed a practical setup based on a negative-feedback avalanche diode detector that is a viable alternative to the current state-of-the art for different clinical scenarios, especially where geometric collection efficiency is limited (e.g. fibre-based systems, confocal microscopy, scanning systems etc.). The proposed setup is characterised with Rose Bengal as a standard photo-sensitiser and it is used to measure the singlet-oxygen quantum yield of a new set of photo-sensitisers for site-selective photodynamic therapy.

This remains a relatively new activity for us, so we are more than happy to discuss any possibilities where the use of our advanced entangled sources and single photon detection capabilities could serve to improve and go beyond current methods.

Contact: Rob Thew

Team: Rob Thew, Hugo Zbinden, Gianluca Boso