By Glennda Chui

When it comes to fully understanding the hidden secrets of quantum materials, it takes one to know one, scientists say: Only tools that also operate on quantum principles can get us there.

A new Department of Energy research center will focus on developing those tools. Based at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the Center for Quantum Sensing and Quantum Materials brings together experts from UIUC, DOE’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, Stanford University and the University of Illinois-Chicago.

They’ll work on developing three cutting-edge devices: a scanning microscope, a spectroscopy instrument that takes advantage of pairs of entangled electrons and another instrument that will probe materials with pairs of photons from SLAC’s X-ray free-electron laser, the Linac Coherent Light Source, which has recently reopened after an upgrade.

These new techniques will allow researchers to see in much greater detail why do the weird things they do, paving the way to discovering new quantum materials and inventing even more sensitive probes of their behavior.

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