We are developing a new class of sensors based on atoms confined in micro-fabricated enclosures. Recent work at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has lead to a prototype chip scale atomic clock (CSAC) with remarkable operating characteristics in terms of frequency stability, size, and power consumption. The CSAC fabrication methodology has promise for scaling to wafer level production so that the cost benefits of mass production may be realized. We intend to extend this core CSAC technology to other atomic vapor based micr-osystems that will be useful for a variety of measurement applications critical to national security. For example, the precise frequency measurement capabilities afforded by atomic vapor frequency references should allow us to measure small static magnetic fields below 1 pT. We will discuss the principles of a micro-fabricated "hyperfine" magnetometer physics package based on magnetically sensitive hyperfine transitions in an alkali atom recently demonstrated at NIST. This magnetometer has a sensitivity of 50 pT Hz-1/2 at 10 Hz, a physics-package volume of 12 mm3 (with a vapor cell volume of 1 mm3), and a power dissipation of 200 mW; and there are prospects for significant improvements. In addition we discuss the principles of other approaches based on micro-fabricated atomic vapor cells currently being considered for sub-picotesla measurements based on magneto-optical effects or the direct coupling of the magnetic moment of the atoms to micromechancial oscillators.
Proceedings Title: 2005 Meeting of the Military Sensing Symposia (MSS) Specialty Group on Battlefield Acoustic & Seismic Sensing, Magnetic & Electric Field Sensors (BAMS)
Conference Dates: August 23-25, 2005
Conference Location: Laurel, MD
Conference Title: MSS Military Sensing Symposia
Pub Type: Conferences
alkali vapor cell, atomic magnetometer, chip scale atomic clock, magnetometer, MEMS