BioQ – bridging the gap between quantum technology and biomedicine

The BioQ group around Professors Martin Plenio, Fedor Jelezko and Tanja Weil have set out to establish a new research field of quantum biosciences and achieve new levels of understanding of quantum effects in biological systems. Driven by the desire to further explore the nanoworld and make structures and functions of individual biomolecules visible under physiological conditions, the group is developing high-performance sensors and imaging techniques. These innovations will not just benefit basic research but also find practical application in biomedical diagnostics and the pharmaceutical industry.

At the end of 2012, the European Research Council awarded the group an ERC Synergy Grant. With a €10.3 million funding sum, this is the European Union's most generously endowed research instrument.

Powerful systems with artificial nanodiamonds

The secret of these high-performance systems are artificial nanodiamonds. In so-called nitrogen-vacancy centres within the diamond lattice – these are atom-sized defects – electrons can be controlled with laser and microwaves. These smallest particles react extremely sensitively to magnetic and electric fields and thus offer highest measurement precision. BioQ aims to transfer the application from the lab to the living organism.
One example is to make metabolic processes that indicate the success of a cancer treatment observable in the MRI scanner.

Research under one shared roof

From 2019 on, the BioQ researchers' work will be bundled at the Centre for Quantum Biosciences (ZQB) . This building and its high-tech laboratories are tailored to the researchers' requirements. Shielded from interfering factors, the researchers want to develop compact solid-state sensors based on magnetic fields and use them to solve biological questions.