The researchers have studied the sensitivity of thermometers created with a handful of atoms, small enough to be capable of showing typical quantum-style behaviours.
The scientist have developed a quantum thermometer with enough precision to detect minute fluctuations in temperature in regions as small as the inside of a cell.
The researchers characterised the types of probes in detail, devices which could provide an estimation of the temperature with a never-before-seen precision. To do so, they combined thermodynamic tools with quantum metrology, which deals with ultra-precise measures in quantum systems.
The physicists searched to find the maximum precision which could be achieved in a real situation, in which measuring time could be very brief given unavoidable experimental limitations. In the research, they also observed that the thermometers could maintain a constant sensitivity in a wide range of temperatures by sacrificing some of their precision.
Individual quantum probes for optimal thermometry, Luis A. Correa, Mohammad Mehboudi, Gerardo Adesso, et al. Physical Review Letters. 05 June 2015
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