Cardiomagnetometry is a growing field of noninvasive medical diagnostics that has triggered a need for affordable high-sensitivity magnetometers. Optical pumping magnetometers (OPMs) are promising candidates for satisfying that need since it has been demonstrated that they can be used to map the magnetic field of the beating human heart. We discuss the principle of a phase-detecting OPM and describe the procedures used to optimize its performance. The optimized OPM has an intrinsic magnetometric sensitivity of 63 fT/Hz1/2 and a measurement bandwidth of 140 Hz with a spatial resolution of 28 mm, measured in a weakly shielded environment. We further discuss the fundamental limitations of frequency- and phase-detecting magnetometers on the basis of information theory.
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