Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Broadband Rydberg Atom Based Self-Calibrating RF E-field Probe



Christopher L. Holloway, Joshua A. Gordon, Steven R. Jefferts, Thomas P. Heavner


We present a significantly new approach for an electric (E) field probe. The probe is based on the interaction of RF-fields with Rydberg atoms, where alkali atoms are excited optically to Rydberg states and the applied RF-field alters the resonant state of the atoms. For this probe, the Rydberg atoms are placed in a glass vapor cell. This vapor cell acts like an RF-to-optical transducer, converting an RF E field to an optical frequency response. The probe utilizes the concept of Electromagnetic Induced Transition (EIT), where the RF transition in the four-level atomic system causes a split of the transition spectrum for the pump laser. This splitting is easily measured and is directly proportional to the applied RF field amplitude. Therefore, by measuring this splitting we get a direct measurement of the RF E-field strength. The significant dipole response of Rydberg atoms over the GHz regime enables this technique to make traceable measurements over a large frequency band including 1-500 GHz. We will show that, with one probe, measurements can be made over a very large frequency range. This is an essential capability of a truly broadband probe/sensor. In this paper, we will report on our results in the development of this probe.
Conference Dates
August 16-23, 2014
Conference Location
Conference Title
2014 XXXIth URSI General Assembly and Scientific Symposium (URSI GASS)


e-feild measured, Rydberg atom, Electromagnetic Induced Transparency (EIT)


Holloway, C. , Gordon, J. , Jefferts, S. and Heavner, T. (2014), Broadband Rydberg Atom Based Self-Calibrating RF E-field Probe, 2014 XXXIth URSI General Assembly and Scientific Symposium (URSI GASS), Beijing, -1, [online], (Accessed April 17, 2024)
Created August 16, 2014, Updated January 27, 2020