Noise analysis of the atomic superheterodyne receiver based on flat-top laser beams.


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Since its theoretical sensitivity is limited by quantum noise, radio wave sensing based on Rydberg atoms has the potential to replace its traditional counterparts with higher sensitivity and has developed rapidly in recent years. However, as the most sensitive atomic radio wave sensor, the atomic superheterodyne receiver lacks a detailed noise analysis to pave its way to achieve theoretical sensitivity. In this work, we quantitatively study the noise power spectrum of the atomic receiver versus the number of atoms, where the number of atoms is precisely controlled by changing the diameters of flat-top excitation laser beams. The results show that under the experimental conditions that the diameters of excitation beams are less than or equal to 2 mm and the read-out frequency is larger than 70 kHz, the sensitivity of the atomic receiver is limited only by the quantum noise and, in the other conditions, limited by classical noise. However, the experimental quantum-projection-noise-limited sensitivity this atomic receiver reaches is far from the theoretical sensitivity. This is because all atoms involved in light-atom interaction will contribute to noise, but only a fraction of them participating in the radio wave transition can provide valuable signals. At the same time, the calculation of the theoretical sensitivity considers both the noise and signal are contributed by the same amount of atoms. This work is essential in making the sensitivity of the atomic receiver reach its ultimate limit and is significant in quantum precision measurement.
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