Weak Electric-Field Detection with Sub-1 Hz Resolution at Radio Frequencies Using A Rydberg Atom-Based Mixer

Published: April 25, 2019


Joshua A. Gordon, Christopher L. Holloway, Matthew T. Simons, Abdulaziz H. Haddab


Rydberg atoms have been used for measuring radio-frequency (RF) electric (E)-fields due to their strong dipole moments over the frequency range of 500 MHz-1 THz. For this, electromagnetically induced transparency (EIT) within the Autler-Townes (AT) regime is used such that the detected E-field is proportional to AT splitting. However, for weak E-fields AT peak separation becomes unresolvable thus limiting the minimum detectable field. Here, we demonstrate using the Rydberg atoms as an RF mixer for weak RF E-field detection well below the AT regime with frequency discrimination better than 1 Hz resolution. Two E-fields incident on a vapor cell full of cesium atoms are used. One E-field at 19.626000 GHz drives the 34D5=2!35P3=2 Rydberg transition and acts as a local oscillator (LO) and a second signal E-field (Sig) of interest is at 19.626090 GHz. In the presence of the LO the Rydberg atoms naturally down convert the Sig field to a 90 kHz intermediate frequency (IF) signal. This IF signal manifests as an oscillation in the probe laser intensity through the Rydberg vapor and is easily detected with a photodiode and lock-in amplifier. In the configuration used here, E-field strength down to 46 mV/m were detected. Furthermore, neighboring fields 0.1 Hz away and equal in strength to Sig could be discriminated without any leakage into the lock-in signal. For signals 1 Hz away and as high as +60 dB above Sig, leakage into the lock-in signal could be kept below 􀀀3 dB.
Citation: Applied Physics Letters
Pub Type: Journals

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Rydber atoms, radio frequency, mixer, weak field, modulation, AM, FM, QPSK
Created April 25, 2019, Updated April 30, 2019