Rydberg Atoms for RF Applications

Sensors based on Rydberg atoms afford unique performance advantages and capabilities that extend beyond those of classical antenna and solid-state technologies. Among these are their small sizes, high sensitivity and dynamic range, addressable wideband sensitivity to electric fields spanning DC to THz, and the provision of field-sensitive quantum states defined by invariable atomic parameters and fundamental constants for self-calibrated operation and direct SI-traceable measurements. These and other attributes of Rydberg-based measurement promise to offer an alternative to conventional RF antennas and sensor technology for applications ranging from antenna calibration and engineering to remote sensing and communications. In this talk I will highlight several advances in Rydberg RF sensing including our development of all-optical phase-sensitive quantum RF sensing based on coherent control of a multi-level Rydberg-atom system that affords RF phase and SI-traceable amplitude measurement with sub-millimeter optical spatial resolution and without external reference RF sources incorporated with the detector, enabling high-resolution RF measurement and imaging. Application demonstrations in RF measurement and sensing with the world’s first portable Rydberg-based devices will also be presented, including sub-wavelength 2D electric-field imaging of a UHF-band Yagi-Uda antenna near-field using a portable Rydberg Field Probe (RFP) and Measurement System (RFMS), a stand-alone instrument for Rydberg-atom-based RF measurement and signal reception.