Mar 14, 2021

New Floquet maser is very good at detecting low frequency magnetic fields

Posted by in categories: cosmology, particle physics

A new type of maser made from periodically driven xenon atoms can detect low frequency magnetic fields far better than any previous magnetometer, according to scientists in China and Germany. The researchers believe their device is ready for use in a proposed gravitational wave search and might in future be used to find hypothetical dark matter particles.

Masers are the microwave-wavelength equivalent of lasers and their extreme frequency stability allows them to make invaluable contributions to atomic clocks, radio telescopes and several other areas of physics. In a traditional maser – as in a traditional laser – the masing action occurs between two energy levels in an atomic or molecular gain medium confined in a cavity. As electromagnetic radiation bounces back and forth in the cavity, photons whose frequency is resonant with the energy difference between the two levels are repeatedly emitted and absorbed by the atoms. Eventually, a “population inversion” with more atoms in the upper level is achieved, and stimulated emission from these atoms produces a highly monochromatic beam of microwave radiation.

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