Recent breakthrough in subfemtotesla precision using magneto-optical atomic magnetometry in the spin-exchange relaxation free (SERF) regime has made the previously unsensible practically detectable. With the theoretical limit beyond attotesla, this novel and scalable quantum magnetic sensor has drawn new minimal baselines that benchmark all kinds of magnetic-field related applications. Because most of assemble parts and component devices have been developed in at the Research Center for Quantum Technology, Chiang Mai University, further development to finally build such quantum magnetic sensor is now plausible with cost efficiency.

Medical Applications

Brain and Heart Scanner

An atomic magnetometer with sensitivity unreachable with current commercial products available is built to real-time record ultraweak brain and heart signals. Several noninvasive modular sensors can be connected and scaled up like 3D jigsaw puzzles to enable large-area scanning. Quantum magnetic sensing is to see what is happening inside a system of 86 billion neurons with nearly one quadrillion connections from the outside.

Quantum Tech: With no magnetic pulse induced into the human body, the passive magnetic flux at the optically pumped Rb-85 atomic cloud in the SERF regime is measured via laser intensity variation due to the rotation of atomic polarization axes.

Direct Societal Impacts: Early-stage diagnoses and treatments of brain injury, epilepsy, dementia, and neurodegenerative diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, autism, and prion diseases (quantitative estimation of the economic effect due to increasing numbers of brain patients is needed).

Collateral Advantages: Wireless brain-controlled machinery, brain-machine interface to control weapons, ineluctable lie detection, magnetoencephalography (MEG), magnetocardiography (MCG), ultra-weak cross-link magnetic activities related to the brain and heart that could have completely changed the current technology of electrical-pulse brain control.

Alternative Quantum Technology:

Aided System:

(left) Brain’s subtle magnetic signals measured at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute. (right) DARPA’s project to read soldiers’ minds Ref: https://www.eurekalert.org/multimedia/785549 ; https://www.militaryaerospace.com/home/article/14033740/mindcontrolled-weapons-link-human-brains-and-machines-nonsurgical
Mind control through brain-computer interface moves into battle. DARPA’s brain-machine interface project for controlling weapons via thoughts. Ref: https://eandt.theiet.org/content/articles/2019/05/darpa-funds-brain-machine-interface-project-for-controlling-weapons-via-thoughts/

Defense and Security Applications

Explosive Detector

This prominent targeted-research initiative makes use of quantum metrology technology that employs recent breakthrough technique in atomic magnetometry. Our radio-frequency atomic magnetometer lying at the heart of the explosive detection device permits seeing the unseeable from distance!

Quantum Tech: Slowly oscillating magnetic pulses emitted from the nuclear quadrupole spontaneous transition of nitrogen-14 nuclei are effectively adiabatic to the hyperfine transition frequencies of rubidium-85 atoms, yet the magneto-optical effect results in changes of the refractive index of the cloud. Here the recorded intensity of a laser beam propagating through the spin-polarized rubidium-85 cloud exposes the over-abundance of airborne nitrogen-14 compounds evaporated from fertilizer-based explosive.

Direct Societal Impact: Detecting nitrogen-based explosives and magnetic containers from >20 meters away

Collateral Advantages: Collaboration between academics and intelligence community.

Alternative Quantum Technology:

Aided System:

(left) The use of an ultra-mobile radio-frequency atomic magnetometer would be reminiscent of a portable Raman explosive detector. (right) Terrorists used Improvised explosive device to ignite a fertilizer-based explosive, Bannang Sata, Yala Province.
Ref: https://www.epequip.com/catalogue/all-hazards-cbrne/detection-diagnostics/explosive/pried/ ; https://mgronline.com/south/detail/9620000069657

Underground Structure Survey

Non-invasively gathering intelligence pertaining to the underground structure and dynamic operation beneath the Earth’s surface.

Quantum Tech: The Zeeman shifts in hyperfine sub-magnetic levels of rubidium-85 atoms due to the geomagnetic field anomalies are precisely measured by scanning the applied RF oscillator to revive the light absorption while optically pumped.

Direct Societal Impact: detecting cables, conduits and sinkhole sites, criminal immigrants and refugees, tunnel detection.

Collateral Advantages: Military deployment detection, metal detection.

Alternative Quantum Technology:

Aided System:

Road construction over national underground asset.
Ref: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-underground-asset-register-project-update/national-underground-asset-register-project-update

Quantum Radio

Ultra-wide tuning capability covers entire radio frequency range (3 Hz to 300 GHz) for sending and receiving data with precise frequency lock. The magnetometry-based quantum radio beats the pain point in classical communication regarding the tradeoff between bandwidth and sensitivity. Come listen to quantum radio to stay connected and communicated in canyons, underneath rubble, inside buildings, including underground, and underwater free of systematic drift or re-calibration.

Quantum Tech: The spin precession rate of optically pumped rubidium-85 atoms gets affected by digitally modulated magnetic pulses, i.e., the digital bits. Alternate electrical signal is measured at a low-cost responsive light detector.

Direct Societal Impact: First responder communication for miners, submariners, rescues teams, in canyons, underneath rubble, inside buildings, including underground, and underwater.

Collateral Advantages: Usages in other forbidding environments and man-made noise, radio astronomy, and medicine (MRI).

Alternative Quantum Technology:

Aided System:

A magnetometry-based quantum radio can analyze the full spectrum of radio frequency and real-world signals, unleashing military applications for communications, spectrum awareness and electronic warfare. Ref: https://phys.org/news/2021-02-quantum-entire-radio-frequency-spectrum.html

Note: Classically, very low frequency means greater penetration depth into matter, however at the expense of a very large antenna (rather stationary), amplifiers and very-likely multi-antenna systems.