Targeting Biological Processes

a cell

Targeting Biological Processes

In this thrust, we will deploy our quantum sensors within cells using both chemical targeting and coherent spin manipulation to achieve specificity. Our goals are to develop bioconjugation and delivery methods to target desired biomolecules and/or subcellular sites (Thrust 2.1) and to engineer highly sensitive quantum measurement techniques that enable detection of relevant biological processes (Thrust 2.2). By designing quantum sensing techniques with specific biological targets in mind, we will advance the sensitivity of quantum measurements beyond the current methods that are limited to a "well-behaved" coherent external magnetic or electric field.

Approach

  • Task 1: To deliver our nanoparticles into cells, we must customize the surfaces for biocompatibility and incorporate targeting labels for sensor trafficking. Our molecular qubits can be conjugated with high specificity to target proteins and delivered into a cell or tissue. Therefore, for our molecular qubits, we will take advantage of widely available labelling techniques already developed for fluorescent single-molecules in combination with imaging at cryogenic temperatures. For diamond nanoparticles, our strategy combines (i) surface modifications aimed at targeting individual target proteins and organelles, (ii) internalization into mammalian and yeast cells, and (iii) targeted intracellular positioning.
  • Task 2: Maintaining coherence within a physiological environment involving thermal noise and ion motions is necessary for quantum sensing in vivo. We will model the dephasing mechanisms through quantum mechanical and molecular dynamics calculations and compare this with experimental measurements of dephasing in noisy biological environments. This modelling and the retrieved noise spectra will help us to develop quantum measurement protocols to improve performance and extract biological information from charge and magnetic measurements.