Quantum Sensor Receives from 0 Hz to 1000 GHz

Although it isn’t that uncommon to have broadband radio coverage in a single device, going from 0 Hz to 1000 GHz with one antenna and receiver is a bit much. But not for the US Army it seems, because they’ve developed a quantum sensor that can cover that range.
The technology uses Rydberg atoms, which are atoms with a highly excited valence electron. They’ve been used for a variety of sensing applications before, such as reading the cosmic microwave background radiation. However, until the Army’s work there has been no quantitative analysis of using them for wide-spectrum communications.

If you want to read more about Rydberg atoms, [Dan Maloney] covered that last year. The basic idea is that one laser beam excites an atom to the Rydberg state and another laser probes the state of the atom. It seems the Army used a single split beam for both jobs with an arrangement of modulators.
The size of the Rydberg sensor was about a centimeter and the experiments compared the sensitivity to other sensors of similar size. Before you get too excited though, the sensor may be small, but the lab to house it isn’t. The team optically pumped rubidium with lasers. We’ve seen quantum radios that require more lab setup, though.