Overview: The Backlund lab develops and applies advanced microscopy techniques that incorporate elements of quantum sensing in order to resolve nanoscale heterogeneity in systems relevant to chemistry, materials, and biology.

Group members will have the opportunity to gain expertise in optics, quantum science, imaging science, single-molecule microscopy, biophysics, soft matter physics, and more. Our work is primarily experimental, but some projects have a significant theoretical component as well. Inquiries from interested experimentalists and theorists are welcome! Projects include:

Nanoscale magnetic resonance microscopy using quantum defects in diamond

Nitrogen vacancy (NV) centers are fluorescent defects in diamond whose emission can be modulated by magnetic fields. This fact, coupled with the ability to bring NV centers within nanometers of molecular targets, enables nanoscale magnetic resonance spectroscopy and imaging. We will develop and apply this NV-mediated nanoscale magnetic resonance technology in order to unravel molecular-scale heterogeneity in target systems relevant to protein biophysics as well as soft and hard condensed matter physics.

Single-molecule microscopy as quantum metrology

Recent research has highlighted the utility in representing semiclassical optical measurements as problems in quantum sensing and metrology. This approach yields fundamental precision bounds with which one could ever hope to measure things like the 3D position of a fluorescent molecule. We will continue to develop the theoretical underpinnings that limit optical microscopy measurements. This will lead us to design and build truly optimal measurement apparatuses, which will enable new observations in applications to the biophysical and condensed matter targets mentioned above.