Quantum sensor detects electromagnetic signals of any frequency


Technological Innovation Website Editor – 06/24/2022

sensor that

Operating technique of the “quantum multimeter”.
[Imagem: Guoqing Wang et al. – 10.1103/PhysRevX.12.021061]

quantum sensors

Quantum sensors are those that use particles at the atomic or sub-atomic level to detect the smallest variations in magnetic or electric fields, enabling measurements with a precision unattainable with the best laboratory equipment today.

They can take the form of solid-state neutral atoms, ions, and spins, and have already been used to investigate exotic states of matter, including time crystals, topological phases, experimental quantum memories, and advanced components of computation.

Until now, however, these sensors were only capable of detecting specific frequencies of electromagnetic fields, depending on the particle used as a probe, which limits their usefulness and prevents the construction of more versatile measuring devices.

Now, Guoqing Wang and his colleagues at MIT have developed a technique that allows these sensors to detect any arbitrary frequency, without any loss in their ability to measure things at the nanometer scale.

sensor that

The experimental apparatus used by the team made measurements on a naturally occurring qubit in the diamond.
[Imagem: Guoqing Wang]

Towards a quantum multimeter

The new sensor the team developed, which they call a quantum mixer, injects a second frequency into the detector using a microwave beam.

This converts the frequency of the field being studied to a different frequency – the difference between the original frequency and that of the added signal. And the adjustment is made to tune to the specific frequency at which the sensor is most sensitive.

This simple process allows the detector to approach any desired frequency, with no loss in the sensor’s nanoscale spatial resolution.

In their experiments, the team used a specific device based on a matrix of nitrogen vacancy centers in diamond, a system widely used not only as a sensor, but also in quantum computing. They demonstrated the detection of a signal with a frequency of 150 megahertz, using a qubit detector with a frequency of 2.2 gigahertz – a detection that would be impossible without the quantum multiplexer.

“The same principle can also be applied to any type of sensor or quantum device,” guarantees Professor Wang, citing as an example the detailed characterization of a microwave antenna used in telecommunications. “It can characterize the distribution of the field [gerado pela antena] with nanoscale resolution, so it’s very promising in that direction.”

And the team is already exploring ways to expand the sensor so that it is able to probe a range of frequencies at once, rather than the single-frequency segmentation of the current system.


Article: Sensing of arbitrary-frequency fields using a quantum mixer
Authors: Guoqing Wang, Yi-Xiang Liu, Jennifer M. Schloss, Scott T. Alsid, Danielle A. Braje, Paola Cappellaro
Magazine: Physical Review X
Vol.: 12, 021061
DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevX.12.021061

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