Researchers have created a quantum sensor covering the entire radio frequency spectrum

– Titima Ongkantong /

Developed by US Army researchers, this quantum device could allow soldiers to detect communication signals across the entire radio frequency spectrum, ranging from 0 to 100 GHz.

“These new sensors have a very small size making them practically undetectable”

In 2018, scientists from theUS Army were the first in the world to offer a quantum receiver using atoms of Rydberg, excited and ultra-sensitive, to detect communication signals. Recently the physicist David Meyer and colleagues in the US Army research and development laboratory have measured the capacity, or data transmission rate, of the receiver channel, and achieved impressive results. Their work was presented in the review Journal of Physics B: Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics.

These new sensors have a very small size making them practically undetectable, which gives soldiers a definite advantage on the ground. “, Explain Meyer. ” Sensors based on Rydberg atoms have only recently been considered for general applications for the detection of electric fields, including as communication receivers. Although Rydberg atoms are known to be widely sensitive, a quantitative description of sensitivity over the entire operational range has never been made.. “

The atoms in the glass cell are excited by lasers to make them more sensitive to electric fields (coming from the golden antenna in the background). To obtain such spectral coverage with a traditional reception system, several antennas, amplifiers and other individual components would have to be used.

Impressive performance

To assess potential applications, military scientists conducted a sensor sensitivity analysis Rydberg to electric fields oscillating over a huge range of frequencies (from 0 to 1012 Hertz). The results obtained show that the sensor Rydberg can reliably detect signals across the spectrum and be compared to other established electric field sensor technologies, such as electro-optical crystals and passive electronics coupled to a dipole antenna.

Quantum mechanics allows us to know the ultimate calibration and performance of the sensor to a very high degree, and it is identical for each sensor “, Advance Meyer, who also believes that ” these results are an important step in determining how this system could be used in the field

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This work is part of the will of the American army to modernize its systems dedicated to navigation, synchronization or geolocation of radiofrequency signals. In the future, researchers will explore different methods to further improve the sensitivity of the device, with the aim of detecting even weaker signals and extending detection protocols to more complex waveforms.

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