The Cryogenic Quantum Microscope Facility is now open!

The University of Melbourne’s School of Physics is now home to a unique facility that incorporates a quantum microscope into a special refrigerator (called a cryostat) that can cool down to a temperature of 4 K above the absolute zero, corresponding to -269°C.

The facility was funded by the Australian Research Council’s LIEF scheme involving a collaboration of researchers from UoM, UNSW, RMIT and ANU.  It will enable researchers across science and engineering to image properties of physical and biological samples at scales and sensitivities not previously possible. This will underpin research and development in a range of technologies, from quantum materials to drug discovery.

Installation of the cryostat and integration of the quantum microscope were overseen by Dr Jean-Philippe Tetienne and Prof Lloyd Hollenberg, who leads the Quantum Science and Technology group at UoM. As a first test, Prof Lloyd Hollenberg and colleagues used the facility to image fluxons in a superconducting film of niobium. Superconductivity is a property observed in certain materials when cooled down to very low temperatures, wherein electrical resistance vanishes. In type II superconductors such as niobium, superconductivity leads to the quantisation of the magnetic flux, which penetrates through the film only in small regions called fluxons (also known as Abrikosov vortices). The image below is a magnetic field image of the niobium film revealing these fluxons.