Researchers realize quantum-enhanced microwave ranging

Professor Sun Fangwen’s research group of Academician Guo Guangcan’s team at University of Science and Technology of China uses micro-nano quantum sensing and local enhancement of electromagnetic fields at deep sub-wavelengths to study microwave signal detection and radio ranging, and achieve positioning with 10-4 wavelength accuracy. The results of the study were recently published in Nature Communications.

Schematic diagram of RF signal detection and ranging based on solid-state spin quantum system Photo courtesy of China University of Science and Technology

Radar positioning technology based on microwave signal measurement has been widely used in autonomous driving, intelligent production, health detection, geological exploration and other activities. Especially under the current general trend of intelligent and information-based development, the development of high-performance radar ranging technology is of great significance to national defense security and economic development.

The development of quantum information technology provides new solutions for the development of radar technology. Quantum sensing and precision measurement use quantum coherence and correlation to improve the measurement sensitivity of the system to physical quantities, which is expected to surpass the accuracy of traditional measurement methods. Sun Fangwen’s research group has long studied the quantum sensing technology of solid-state spin systems for the practical application of quantum information technology. The charge state depletion nanoimaging method was developed to realize the vector sensing and imaging of super-diffraction limit-resolved electromagnetic field based on diamond nitrogen-vacancy color center, and the phenomenon of local enhancement of electromagnetic field in the 10-6 wavelength space was explored by super-resolution quantum sensing.

In this study, the research group combined the quantum sensing of solid-state systems with micro-nano resolution and the deep sub-wavelength localization of electromagnetic fields to develop high-sensitivity microwave detection and high-precision microwave positioning technology. The research group designed a composite microwave antenna composed of diamond spin quantum sensor and metal nanostructure, which collects and converges microwave signals propagating in free space into nanospace, so as to measure microwave signals by detecting the state of local solid-state quantum probes. This method converts the detection of weak signals in free space into the detection of the interaction between electromagnetic fields and solid-state spin at the nanoscale, and improves the microwave signal measurement sensitivity of solid-state quantum sensors by 3-4 orders of magnitude.

In order to further use high-sensitivity microwave detection to achieve high-precision microwave positioning, the research group built a microwave interferometric measuring device based on diamond quantum sensor, which detected the interference results of the reflected microwave signal and the reference signal of the object through solid-state spin, and obtained the phase of the object reflected microwave signal and the position information of the object. At the same time, the research group used solid-state spin quantum probes to interact with microwave photons coherently to achieve quantum-enhanced position measurement accuracy of 10 microns (about 1/10,000th of the wavelength).

According to the reviewers, “This work is the first application of diamond quantum sensors in quantum ranging. ”

Compared with traditional radar systems, the quantum measurement method does not require active devices such as amplifiers at the detection end, reducing the influence of factors such as electronic noise on the measurement limit. Through follow-up research, it will be possible to further improve the radio positioning accuracy, sampling rate and other indicators based on solid-state spin quantum sensing, and develop practical solid-state quantum radar positioning technology, which exceeds the performance level of existing radars. (Source: Wang Min, China Science News)

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