QUILT – Quantum Methods for Advanced Imaging Solutions

Fraunhofer Lighthouse Project

In March 2018, the new Fraunhofer Lighthouse Project QUILT (Quantum Methods for Advanced Imaging Solutions) was launched in Berlin. The letters represent a consortium of six Fraunhofer institutes and partners from science and industry who work closely together in the field of quantum research and thus combine their scientific expertise and extensive knowledge of the market.


Imaging Difficulties Using Terahertz Waves

Classical imaging in the visible spectral range benefits from the wide availability of good detectors. Whether in digital cameras, PCs, or smartphones: the majority of households own several optical imaging systems with millions of detectors. However, imaging in the terahertz spectral range is still a major technical challenge. Often, we are forced to rely on scanning methods since only a single or just a few detectors can be operated. In practice that means the scenes to be recorded are scanned with a single detector and these traces, subsequently, have to be put together.

Quantum Optics Provides a Solution

Using the phenomena of quantum optics, we can transfer the properties of photons (light particles) to other photons. If we succeed in transferring the properties of difficult detectable photons over to the easier to detect photons, for example, those in the visible range, we can identify them and avoid the detector availability problem.

Experimenteller Aufbau zum Nachweis der quantenoptisch erzeugten Photonen
© Fraunhofer ITWM
Experimenteller Aufbau zum Nachweis der quantenoptisch erzeugten Photonen

Initial Success

Inspired by outstanding basic research on the subject of quantum optics, the aim of our flagship project is to transfer these concepts to the terahertz spectral range. The first experimental challenge was to generate suitable photon pairs, something we achieved last year.

The next steps mean entering into uncharted scientific territory. The interaction of photons in the terahertz range with visible photons must be verified. For this, we take advantage of the good detectability of visible photons to indirectly detect and utilize terahertz waves. If this step succeeds, a new access to the terahertz spectral range and its many applications will be made possible.

Our Role in the Project QUILT

We are involved in the project in the field of quantum imaging and play a key role in the modelling, simulation and optimization of quantum-based non-contact methods. The aim is to make imaging processes for material surfaces more reliable, faster and more cost-efficient. The main points are:

  • Core Technology Quantum Models: development of a digital twin for quantitative prediction of quantum optical experiments
  • Experiment Terahertz Structure Analysis System: use of entangled photon pairs (VIS-THz) to improve detection efficiency

Involved Fraunhofer Institutes and Partners

In the Fraunhofer Lighthouse Project QUILT we work together with five more Fraunhofer Institutes:

Gruppenbild zum QUILT-Kick-Off in Berlin.
© Fraunhofer IOF/Walter Oppel
Gruppenbild zum QUILT-Kick-Off in Berlin.