Army tests long-range quantum radio communication – DNyuz

Army tests long-range quantum radio communication

The U.S. Army, working with a startup called Rydberg Technologies, has achieved the world’s first long-range radio communication with an atomic quantum receiver, a breakthrough that could greatly help new jam- or hacker-proof communications, the company announced Thursday.

What is a quantum sensor? The quantum sensor is a receiver or an antenna which uses much less energy and can detect very tiny changes in electromagnetic fields. How are they so sensitive? As Rydberg Technologies CEO Dave Anderson explains in this 2018 paper, the key is Rydberg atoms, which are cesium atoms with very excited electrons, giving them a high quantum number, reflective of a large distance between the electronics and the nucleus. That distance gives the atoms a very acute response to subtle changes in electromagnetic fields. This response can then be used to detect radio waves in a way that is beyond the capabilities of a standard antenna.

Such a sensor could be used for many purposes, such as to detect a wider variety of wavelengths than a conventional antenna, and would be less sensitive to electromagnetic disruption.

That’s a key military concern, as the Pentagon looks to a future facing adversaries with extremely effective electromagnetic warfare capabilities. The quantum sensor can detect drones and soldiers with high-tech communications equipment. It will not decrypt communication, but it could help troops find them. It could also help troops find new pockets within the spectrum to communicate between drones, jets, ships, satellites, and soldiers even in the midst of heavy electromagnetic interference.

“The ARx [atomic antenna receiver] demonstrated [radio frequency] signal reception and radio communication at a distance of over 1 kilometer. It is not a limit that can be considered either practical or fundamental. In an email, Anderson informed Defence One that this was the first demonstration for long-range transmission of signals. The demo took place during the Army’s recent NetModX field experiment.

“There is work to be done to further miniaturize and ruggedize these systems for broad deployment. The next steps in research and experimentation include pushing fundamental capabilities of atoms, and light. We are still far from fundamental quantum limits,” he said.

The work was partially funded by the Defense Innovation Unit.

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