US Army scientists have developed a new quantum sensor that could allow them to pick up communication signal covering the entire radio frequency spectrum. This sensor could help to enhance to communication systems of United States soldiers while simultaneously cutting down on bulky equipment in the field.
Traditional receiver systems lack the ability to cover this sort of wide spectral range with a single antenna. Even with the addition of several unique systems made up of components like amplifiers and antennas, the technology simply cannot cover the same range of signals.
This new quantum sensor relies on a special type of super-sensitive atoms. These atoms are known as Rydberg atoms, and have already proven their effectiveness in the Army-made quantum receiver. Army engineers believe this technology could prove a powerful tool in detecting a wide range of communication signals across the spectrum.
“These new sensors can be very small and virtually undetectable, giving Soldiers a disruptive advantage. Rydberg-atom based sensors have only recently been considered for general electric field sensing applications, including as a communications receiver. While Rydberg atoms are known to be broadly sensitive, a quantitative description of the sensitivity over the entire operational range has never been done.”David Meyer, a scientist at the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command’s Army Research Laboratory
During their research on the sensitivity of the Rydberg sensor, scientists were able to determine that their sensor is capable of accurately detecting signals across the whole radio frequency spectrum. Scientists have since confirmed that their technology can stand against others already used in the electric field sensor realm.
According to Army engineers, it was quantum mechanics that made the sensor’s calibration and performance possible. Without those capabilities, the sensor would not be able to operate under laboratory settings, let alone potentially out in the field. They intend to continue exploring various applications for innovation in the realm of quantum mechanics, including geolocation technologies and novel communication concepts.
Regarding their quantum sensor, Army researchers are attempting to figure out how soldiers could utilize the system in the field. They are also working to make it even more sensitive so it can decipher weaker signals as well as complicated waveforms.