A new “quantum radar” device uses entangled microwaves to overcome some of the limitations of traditional radar systems.
The device, built by a team from the Institute of Science and Technology Austria, is capable of spotting objects at lower temperatures and with less background noise than existing radar, according to MIT Technology Review. Though still in early stages, researchers say the quantum radar’s low energy levels could lead to better noninvasive medical imaging techniques or stealthier military technology.
The trick behind this new radar is to use quantum entanglement instead of the radio waves used in radar. That allows the device to use less energy to detect nearby objects than conventional radar, according to the team’s research, which was published to the preprint server ArXiv earlier this month.
While the act of reflecting and detecting the photons as they bounce off whatever object they’re spotting destroys the quantum entanglement, according to MIT Tech Review, the photons are still associated with each other strongly enough to be discernable from background light in the area.
As a result, the quantum radar was able to detect room-temperature objects in an indoor room-temperature environment — a capability that eludes conventional high-energy radar systems.
READ MORE: Quantum radar has been demonstrated for the first time [MIT Technology Review]