Atomic systems are adopted in a growing number of field-deployable sensors for time-keeping, inertial navigation, gravity sensing, magnetometry, electric-field (RF/microwave) sensing, and others. Quantum sensing, taking advantage of the quantum mechanical behavior of neutral atoms, is expected to significantly boost the sensitivity of various sensor modalities critical in NASA and other government or commercial applications. Opto-Atomics Corp. (OAC) proposes to develop a Rugged Atomic Sensor Laser (RASL) for NASA’s in-space atom-based sensing applications. RASL will offer flight-qualifiable, rugged, long-life laser systems offering narrow linewidth and high tunability. The RASL platform can be used in atom-based sensing with various atomic species of interest to NASA, even multiple species at the same time if needed, thereby serving as a flexible, versatile, compact light source addressing many NASA missions under a shared system architecture and design. In Phase I, OAC will design and assemble key system components of RASL, evaluate their performance, and perform feasibility demonstrations. We will also conduct a preliminary design of the fully-packaged, configurable RASL system for future development.
Quantum sensing has not been widely adopted in field-deployable systems due to system integration and ruggedization challenges. However, with recent development in various enabling technologies, quantum sensors are adopted in a growing number of applications. Various NASA missions and R&D requiring inertial navigation, gravity sensing, timekeeping, magnetic-field sensing, and RF/microwave sensing can benefit from a rugged, versatile laser system developed explicitly for atom-based sensing.
Quantum sensing based on neutral atoms has many potential applications for the military and other governmental sectors. The RASL technology will significantly expedite field deployment of these truly quantum devices by providing a robust, versatile light source that can be used in various quantum metrology applications.