We’re one step closer to atomic radio

We’re one step closer to atomic radio

Enlarge / Physicist C.J. Holloway in his atomic recording studio at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Maryland. (credit: J. Burras/NIST)

Scientists at the National Institute for Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, Maryland, have brought us one step closer to “atomic radio” by using an atom-based receiver to make a stereo recording of music streamed into the laboratory—namely, Queen’s “Under Pressure.” They described their work in a new paper in AIP Advances.

So-called “Rydberg atoms” are atoms that are in an especially excited state well above their ground (lowest-energy) state. This makes them extra-sensitive to passing electric fields, like the alternating fields of radio waves. All you need is a means of detecting those interactions to turn them into quantum sensors—like a laser. That means, in principle, that Rydberg atoms could receive and play back radio signals.

This isn’t the first time Rydberg

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