Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

High-resolution optical magnetometry with cold cesium atoms

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
2.15.01  Engineering sciences and technologies  Metrology  Sensors and data acquisition 

Code Science Field
P180  Natural sciences and mathematics  Metrology, physical instrumentation 

Code Science Field
2.02  Engineering and Technology  Electrical engineering, Electronic engineering, Information engineering 
magnetometry, quantum technologies, cold atoms, optical detection, magnetic resonance
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (14)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  07518  PhD Tomaž Apih  Physics  Researcher  2017 - 2020  264 
2.  19218  PhD Valentin Batagelj  Metrology  Researcher  2019  145 
3.  22480  PhD Samo Beguš  Metrology  Researcher  2017 - 2020  174 
4.  18272  PhD Alan Gregorovič  Physics  Researcher  2017 - 2020  99 
5.  21545  PhD Peter Jeglič  Physics  Head  2017 - 2020  216 
6.  33298  PhD Jure Kranjec  Metrology  Technical associate  2019 
7.  03321  Ivan Kvasić  Physics  Technical associate  2017 - 2020  22 
8.  39153  PhD Tadej Mežnaršič  Physics  Junior researcher  2017 - 2020  34 
9.  00400  PhD Dušan Ponikvar  Physics  Researcher  2019 - 2020  127 
10.  18280  PhD Igor Pušnik  Metrology  Researcher  2019  346 
11.  39667  Slaven Ranogajec    Technical associate  2018 - 2020 
12.  28235  PhD Erik Zupanič  Physics  Researcher  2017 - 2020  128 
13.  23567  PhD Rok Žitko  Physics  Researcher  2017 - 2020  249 
14.  31981  PhD Vincencij Žužek  Metrology  Researcher  2017 - 2019  34 
Organisations (2)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0106  Jožef Stefan Institute  Ljubljana  5051606000  90,038 
2.  1538  University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Electrical Engineering  Ljubljana  1626965  27,611 
There has been a tremendous development of existing and new methods and principles in the field of metrology in the recent past. Quantum devices are emerging as novel and promising candidates for the next generation of sensors with a step change in sensitivity and/or accuracy. The seemingly endless opportunities of next "quantum revolution" were already recognized by academia and industry, resulting in launch of an ambitious flagship initiative on Quantum Technologies.   Vapor cells with alkali atoms are already used in precise hot-vapor atomic magnetometers and are in many applications already replacing SQUID magnetometers (e.g., as NQR, NMR, biomagnetic signal detectors, in physics and metrology research laboratories). Compared to SQUID devices they do not need complicated cryogenic cooling, they exhibit better sensitivity, are compact, much cheaper to operate and do not need calibration. Next step in the development of an ultimate magnetic sensor is to replace hot atoms with cold atoms. Similar evolution from using hot to using cold atoms is already under way in timekeeping experiments, where clocks with cold atoms surpass the standard cesium clock stability by several orders of magnitude.   The main advantages of cold-atom over hot-vapor magnetometers are better spatial resolution, longer coherence times and a negligible Doppler broadening, making them even more sensitive and precise. Because of the small volume of cold atoms cloud (a few tenths of a mm in diameter) these sensors could also be used for spatially resolved magnetic field measurements and for measurements of magnetic fields gradients. The magneto-optical methods of cold-atom experiments provide a precise control over the position, number, density, temperature and of quantum states of trapped atoms. It is also possible to fine tune the interactions between cesium atoms via Feshbach resonances. These parameters make cold atoms ideal testing platform for quantum technologies. In this project we propose the development of a novel cesium cold-atoms magnetometer. Not only are we planning to prove basic concepts but are striving toward a working magnetic sensor, capable of detecting nuclear magnetic resonance (NQR) signal from a real sample.   The ambitious project is composed of three parts. In the first part a cesium hot-vapor magnetometer working with two different detection schemes will be constructed. In the second part a novel cesium cold-atoms magnetometer will be developed. Cesium atoms will be cooled using existing cold atoms apparatus to temperatures of a few nK. Clouds of trapped cold atoms will be used as a precise magnetic probe. Similar detections schemes as used with hot-vapor magnetometer will be employed in order to directly compare the performance of a hot-vapor and a cold-atoms sensors. A theoretical framework will be devised and the results compared to the actual experimental values. The final, third part concerns the application viewpoint of the project. Manipulation of the cesium atom cloud properties and spatial position will be done by changing the experimental parameters during preparation of cold atoms and by changing the positions of the laser beams trapping potentials. With these changes it will be possible to perform the two important experiments: mapping the profile of a quadrupole magnetic field and measuring the magnetic field gradients inside the ultra-high vacuum chamber. Additionally, the possibility to detect NQR signal with cold-atom probe on a sample material will be tested.   The work will be conducted by a well-organized team of experts from two different scientific disciplines with excellent past results in the relevant fields of research. We strongly believe that we propose a feasible project which will result in a new knowledge on quantum sensors and in a novel cold-atoms magnetometer, capable of measuring magnetic fields with unprecedented sensitivity and resolution.
Significance for science
We propose an ambitious research project, which is at the cutting edge of today’s science of detecting magnetic fields and magnetic fields gradients. Earlier this year European Commission announced an ambitious €1 billion Flagship-scale initiative in quantum research and in quantum technologies. It should lead to devices with far superior performance and capabilities for sensing, measuring and imaging; for communication, simulation and computing. Quantum technologies ultimately are expected to open new opportunities to address grand challenges in such fields as energy, health, security and the environment. We propose several questions in this field, which may have profound impact in the future, as the aim of the project is to push the detection limits beyond today’s state-of-the-art using novel quantum based devices.  It is of special importance that the primary goal of the project is to increase the spatial sensitivity of the best existing magnetometers by at least an order of magnitude using optical magnetometer with cold atoms. A successful completion of this project would certainly present an important contribution to the field of quantum sensors. We would develop novel experimental techniques and devise new theoretical tools and thus be able to directly compare the performance of hot-vapor and cold cesium magnetometers for detection of static and radio-frequency magnetic fields. New knowledge and experience acquired during development would not only be beneficial for understanding basic principles of this new generation of sensors but would also help in future design of different quantum based sensors.   This multidisciplinary project will be conducted by a well-organized team of physicists and microelectronics experts. All members have proven in the past that they are capable of reaching excellent results by good project coordination and well prepared research plan. As the proposed research areas are topical and important, we expect to publish the results in scientific journals of the highest rank.
Significance for the country
The proposed project integrates research efforts and ideas of three different research groups from two different scientific disciplines: (experimental and theoretical) physics and electronic engineering. Both disciplines have a long and fruitful tradition in Slovenia and have in the past already successfully cooperated in, e.g., recent research project on “Selective and hypersensitive micro-capacitive sensor system for targeted molecular detection in the atmosphere”. The results of this three years project are at the cutting edge of today’s science and technology in the field of molecule sensors and have led to very tight collaboration that resulted in a very good project output. Investigations in new, highly relevant topics and coverage of wide range of research fields are prerequisites for successful continuation of the research tradition.   We believe that the future markets for quantum technologies are going to be at least as significant as current Information and communications technology. We expect in time the development of smaller-scale industry or high-tech companies that could exploit and use our technological and research achievements. The results of the proposed research are the ground for the development of sensitive magnetic field sensors that can be used in different fields such as: -  new prototype sensor technologies for medicine (replacement for SQUID), -  improved sensitivity of detectors for non-contact detection of illicit materials (NQR based   devices on border and safety controls), -  improved NQR and NMR laboratory analysis apparatus (pharmacy), -  use of sensors in experimental laboratories (physics, chemistry).   A successful completion and further commercialization of the proposed project would have a direct impact to the domestic economy, particular in areas of control-systems industry, optical elements, etc., because of the creation of new high-tech jobs, which would be beneficial for long term Slovenian economy growth.
Most important scientific results Final report
Most important socioeconomically and culturally relevant results Interim report, final report
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