Quantum receiver with full radio frequency spectrum detection range

A Rydberg receiver and spectrum analyzer detects a wide range of real-world radio frequency signals above a microwave circuit including AM radio, FM radio, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Credit: U.S. Army illustration

Researchers at the US Army Research Laboratory have built a quantum sensor, which can sample the radio-frequency spectrum—from zero frequency up to 20 GHz—and detect AM and FM radio, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and other communication signals.

The Rydberg sensor uses laser beams to create highly-excited Rydberg atoms directly above a microwave circuit, to boost and hone in on the portion of the spectrum being measured. The Rydberg atoms are sensitive to the circuit’s voltage, enabling the device to be used as a sensitive probe for the wide range of signals in the RF spectrum.

The Rydberg spectrum analyzer has the potential to surpass fundamental limitations of traditional electronics in sensitivity, bandwidth and frequency range. Because of this, the lab’s Rydberg spectrum analyzer and other quantum sensors have the potential to unlock a new frontier of Army sensors for spectrum awareness, electronic warfare, sensing and communications—part of the Army’s modernization strategy. (Phys.org)

The work has been published in Physical Review Applied.

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