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Quantum hyperpolarisation for ultrasensitive nuclear magnetic resonance and imaging

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - HyperQ (Quantum hyperpolarisation for ultrasensitive nuclear magnetic resonance and imaging)

Reporting period: 2022-01-01 to 2023-06-30

Many of the most remarkable contributions of modern science to society have arisen from the interdisciplinary work of scientists enabling novel methods of imaging and sensing. Outstanding examples are nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) which have enabled fundamental insights in a broad range of sciences extending from Chemistry to the Life Sciences. However, the key challenge of NMR and MRI is their very low inherent sensitivity due to the weak nuclear spin polarisation under ambient conditions. This makes the extension of magnetic resonance to the nanoscale (small volumes) and to the observation of metabolic processes (low concentrations) impossible.
HyperQ addresses this challenge with the development of room-temperature quantum control of solid-state spins to increase nuclear spin polarisation several orders of magnitude above thermal equilibrium and thereby revolutionise the state-of-the-art of magnetic resonance. Essential for this development is the synergy of an interdisciplinary team of world leaders in quantum control and hyperpolarised magnetic resonance to enable the development of quantum control theory (“Quantum Software”), quantum materials (“Quantum Hardware”), their integration (“Quantum Devices”) and applications to biological and medical imaging (“Medical Quantum Applications”). HyperQ will target major breakthroughs in the field of magnetic resonance, which include chip-integrated hyperpolarisation devices designed to operate in combination with portable magnetic resonance quantum sensors, unprecedented sensitivity of bio-NMR at the nanoscale, and biomarkers of deranged cellular metabolism.
The HyperQ technology will provide access to metabolic processes from the micron to the nanoscale and thereby insights into metabolic signatures of a broad range of disease such as cancer, Alzheimer and the mechanisms behind neurodegenerative disease. This will enable fundamentally new insights into the Life Sciences.
HyperQ work during the first finding period was focused in the development of hardware and software allowing to realise ultrasensitive magnetic resonance form nano- to macroscale. Three PIs team started to work on main research line of the project.
Jelezko. The main focus of research activity of Jelezko team was devoted to realisation of quantum control toolkit enabling nuclear magnetic resonance (Quantum Software) and development of tailored diamond for hyperpolarization related applications (Quantum Hardware).
Plenio. The main research effort of the Plenio group was directed towards aspects of “Quantum Software”. Notably quantum control methods that enable and improve nuclear magnetic resonance at the nanoscale as well as hyperpolarization techniques in a variety of quantum hardwares based on electronic spin degrees of freedom that can be subjected simultaneously to optical and microwave control fields.
Ardenkjær-Larsen. The main effort was towards establishing an optics lab for quantum sensing (magnetometry and NMR) with NV defects in diamonds. Secondly, to establish MR imaging with hyperpolarized MR in our animal facility. A new scanner is under installation, and we have developed novel concepts for 13C MR coils for imaging of hyperpolarized substrates.
HyperQ will revolutionise biological and medical understanding by providing unprecedented insight into metabolic processes at the cellular and macroscopic level that are at present inaccessible with any other technique. Our objectives are to (see Fig. 1):
1) Devise quantum control methods of electronic and nuclear spin states to mediate and sense hyperpolarised magnetic resonance (“Quantum Software”)
2) Develop novel quantum materials structured at the nanoscale with accurate control of electronic and nuclear spin sites as polarisation sources and detectors of hyperpolarised magnetic resonance (“Quantum Hardware”)
3) Build devices that deliver hyperpolarised biological molecules in combination with MR detection of single cells in a microfluidic bioreactor (“Quantum MR Devices”)
4) Demonstrate applications of HyperQ technology to biological and medical imaging challenges (“Medical Quantum Applications”)
Nanoscale NMR