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Usually, a defect in a diamond is a bad thing. But for engineers, miniscule blips in a diamond's otherwise stiff crystal structure are paving the way for ultrasensitive quantum sensors that push the limits of today's technologies. Now, researchers at the University of Chicago's Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering (PME) have developed a method to optimize these quantum sensors, which can detect tiny perturbations in magnetic or electric fields, among other things.

Their new approach, published in PRX Quantum, takes advantage of the way defects in diamonds or semiconductors behave like qubits—the smallest unit of quantum information.

"Researchers are already using this kind of qubit to make really amazing sensors," said Prof. Aashish Clerk, senior author of the new work. "What we've done is come up with a better way of getting the most information we can out of these qubits."

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