Abstract

A scalar magnetic field sensor based on a millimeter-size Rb87 vapor cell is described. The magnetometer uses nearly copropagating pump and probe laser beams, amplitude modulation of the pump beam, and detection through monitoring the polarization rotation of the detuned probe beam. The circularly polarized pump laser resonantly drives a spin precession in the alkali atoms at the Larmor frequency. A modulation signal on the probe laser polarization is detected with a lock-in amplifier. Since the Larmor precession is driven all-optically, potential cross talk between sensors is minimized. And since the pump light is turned off during most of the precession cycle, large offsets of the resonance, typically present in a single-beam Bell–Bloom scheme, are avoided. At the same time, relatively high sensitivities can be reached even in millimeter-size vapor cells: The magnetometer achieves a sensitivity of 1pT/Hz1/2 in a sensitive volume of 16mm3, limited by environmental noise. When a gradiometer configuration is used to cancel the environmental noise, the magnetometer sensitivity reaches 300fT/Hz1/2. We systematically study the dependence of the magnetometer performance on the optical duty cycles of the pump light and find that better performance is achieved with shorter duty cycles, with the highest values measured at 1.25% duty cycle.

© 2017 Optical Society of America

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