Inside Quantum Technology

Big Rydberg Atom Research to Create Super Sensitive Quantum Radios

(Forbes) Paul Smith-Goodson, Forbes Analyst-in-Residence, Quantum Computing, concentrates on quantum radio in this article.
Quantum sensing is an area of interest to our military because it is useful on and off the battlefield. For that reason, Army scientists are doing leading-edge research, and exploring the use of quantum sensing for such applications as submarine detection, underwater communications, geolocation, navigation, and communications.
The Army is building experimental quantum radios using Rydberg atoms created from Rubidium, an alkali metal. Alkali metal atoms are used because they have a single valence electron in the outer shell. The valence electron is weakly bound to the atom because it is the only electron in its energy level and is shielded from the nucleus by the inner core electrons. Because of the extreme location of its outer electron, a Rydberg atom is typically very large.
A team of research scientists at the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command’s Army Research Laboratory. The team is perfecting a quantum sensor that they previously announced as the world’s first quantum radio receiver using Rydberg atoms.
According to the Army researchers, a quantum radio will be portable enough for soldiers to carry it undetected. It will also be able to receive communication signals over the entire radio spectrum, from zero to 100 GHz, said the researchers. A big plus is that the device can also act as its own antenna. Such broad frequency coverage by a single antenna isn’t possible with traditional receivers.
There has been growing interest in studying Rydberg atoms for electric field sensing. The other research has primarily been in the United States, Europe, and China.

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