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Chip-scale vapor cell technology


We are developing microfabricated high-performance atomic magnetometers for magnetic anomaly detection, nuclear magnetic resonance and biomagnetics. The sensors are based on a heated sample of alkali atoms, which are spin-polarized with a polarized light field. Sensitivities below 20 fT/rtHz are achieved, competitive with SQUID-based magnetic sensors, but without the need for cooling to cryogenic temperatures. The sensors are being used in applications such as low-field nuclear magnetic resonance and the measurement of weak magnetic fields produced by the human body.


Content forthcoming

Major Accomplishments:

High-performance magnetometers:

R. Mhaskar, S. Knappe, and J. Kitching, "A Low-Power, High-Sensitivity Micromachined Optical Magnetometer," Applied Physics Letters, 101, (2012) (Link:

R. Jimenez-Martinez, W. C. Griffith, S. Knappe, J. Kitching, and M. Prouty, "High Bandwidth Optical Magnetometer," Journal of the Optical Society of America B, 29, (2012) (Link:

R. Jimenez-Martinez, W. C. Griffith, Y. J. Wang, S. Knappe, J. Kitching, K. Smith, and M. D. Prouty, "Sensitivity Comparison of Mx and Frequency-Modulated Bell-Bloom Cs Magnetometers in a Microfabricated Cell," IEEE Transactions on Instrumentation and Measurement, 59, (2010) (Link:

W. C. Griffith, S. Knappe, and J. Kitching, "Femtotesla atomic magnetometry in a microfabricated vapor cell," Optics Express, 18, (2010) (Link:

R. Jimenez-Martinez, S. Knappe, W. C. Griffith, and J. Kitching, "Conversion of laser-frequency noise to optical-rotation noise in cesium vapor," Optics Letters, 34, (2009) (Link:

W. C. Griffith, R. Jimenez-Martinez, S. Knappe, J. Kitching, and V. Shah, "Miniature atomic magnetometer integrated with flux concentrators," Applied Physics Letters, 94, (2009) (Link:

V. Shah, S. Knappe, P. D. D. Schwindt, and J. Kitching, "Subpicotesla atomic magnetometry with a microfabricated vapour cell," Nature Photonics, 1, (2007) (Link:

P. D. D. Schwindt, B. Lindseth, S. Knappe, V. Shah, J. Kitching, and L.-A. Liew, "A chip-scale atomic magnetometer with improved sensitivity using the Mx technique," Applied Physics Letters, 90, (2007) (Link:

E. Hodby, E. Donley, and J. Kitching, "Differential Atomic Magnetometry Based on a Diverging Laser Beam," Applied Physics Letters, 91, (2007) (Link:

P. D. D. Schwindt, L. Hollberg, and J. Kitching, "Self-oscillating Rb magnetometer using non-linear magneto-optic rotation," Review of Scientific Instruments, 76, (2005) (Link:

P. D. D. Schwindt, S. Knappe, V. Shah, L. Hollberg, J. Kitching, L. A. Liew, and J. Moreland, "Chip-scale atomic magnetometer," Applied Physics Letters, 85, (2004) (Link:


T. H. Sander, J. Preusser, R. Mhaskar, J. Kitching, L. Trahms, and S. Knappe, "Magnetoencephalography with a Chip-Scale Atomic Magnetometer," Biomedical Optics Express, 3, (2012) (Link:

S. Knappe, T. H. Sander, O. Kosch, F. Wiekhorst, J. Kitching, and L. Trahms, "Cross-validation of microfabricated atomic magnetometers with superconducting quantum interference devices for biomagnetic applications," Applied Physics Letters, 97, (2010) (Link:

Nuclear Magnetic Resonance

T. Theis, P. Ganssle, G. Kervern, S. Knappe, J. Kitching, M. P. Ledbetter, D. Budker, and A. Pines, "Parahydrogen-enhanced zero-field nuclear magnetic resonance," Nature Physics, 7, (2011) (Link:

M. P. Ledbetter, C. W. Crawford, A. Pines, D. E. Wemmer, S. Knappe, J. Kitching, and D. Budker, "Optical detection of NMR J-spectra at zero magnetic field," Journal of Magnetic Resonance, 199, (2009) (Link:

M. P. Ledbetter, I. M. Savukov, D. Budker, V. Shah, S. Knappe, J. Kitching, D. J. Michalak, S. Xu, and A. Pines, "Zero-field remote detection of NMR with a microfabricated atomic magnetometer," Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 105, (2008) (Link:

Fiber magnetometer

Start Date:

July 1, 2004

End Date:


Lead Organizational Unit: