Skip to content
Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter October 19, 2019

Fast and robust optically pumped cesium magnetometer

Victor Lebedev, Stefan Hartwig and Thomas Middelmann


We present a fast and robust optically pumped magnetometer that is based on a feedback-controlled spin ensemble of cesium atoms in spin-polarized vapor. The table-top system is intended for operation in unshielded environment, and its design allows conversion into a handheld sensor head. Under strongly disturbed environmental conditions in the laboratory, the sensor exhibits a speed of more than 56 kHz, while having a slew rate of 39 mT/s and a full dynamic range of 10 – 120 μT. Under these conditions a sensitivity of 33 pT/Hz is reached. By reducing the speed to 3.6 kHz the sensitivity can be improved to 6 pT/Hz, which is close to the shot noise limit. We describe the sensor design and its optimization and demonstrate the performance of the sensor under conditions appropriate for magnetic susceptometry measurements.

Corresponding author: Victor Lebedev, Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt, Abbestr. 2-12, D-10587 Berlin, Germany, E-mail:

  1. Author contribution: All the authors have accepted responsibility for the entire content of this submitted manuscript and approved submission.

  2. Research funding: None declared.

  3. Conflict of interest statement: The authors declare no conflicts of interest regarding this article.

Appendix A. Explicit form of Ω(ϕ)  relation

Physical phase-frequency relation resulting from Eq. (4) takes form:



[1] D. Budker and D. F. J. Kimball, Optical Magnetometry, New York, Cambridge University Press, 2013.Search in Google Scholar

[2] G. Bison, N. Castagna, A. Hofer, et al., “A room temperature 19-channel magnetic field mapping device for cardiac signals,” Appl. Phys. Lett., vol. 95, p. 17, 2009, in Google Scholar

[3] S. Knappe, T. Sander, and L. Trahms, “Optically-pumped magnetometers for MEG,” in Magnetoencephalography: From Signals to Dynamic Cortical Networks, S. Supek and C. J. Aine, Eds., Berlin, Heidelberg, Springer, 2014, pp. 993–999, isbn: 978-3-642-33045-2, in Google Scholar

[4] Search in Google Scholar

[5] E. Boto, N. Holmes, J. Leggett, et al., “Moving magnetoencephalography towards real-world applications with a wearable system,” Nature, vol. 555, no. 7698, pp. 657–661, 2018, issn: 1476-4687. in Google Scholar

[6] S. Pustelny, D. F. J Kimball, C Pankow et al., “The global network of optical magnetometers for exotic physics (GNOME): a novel scheme to search for physics beyond the standard model,” Ann. Phys. 2013 525: 8659–9670. in Google Scholar

[7] Search in Google Scholar

[8] Search in Google Scholar

[9] S. Colombo, V. Lebedev, Z. D. Grujic, et al., “M(H) dependence and size distribution of SPIONs measured by atomic magnetometry,” Int. J. Magn. Part. Imag, vol. 2, no. 1, 2016, Art no.1606002, issn: 2365–9033 in Google Scholar

[10] Search in Google Scholar

[11] I. Savukov and T. Karaulanov, “Magnetic-resonance imaging of the human brain with an atomic magnetometer,” Appl. Phys. Lett., vol. 103, no. 4, 2013, Art no.043703, in Google Scholar

[12] Y. HuG, Z. Iwata, T. Sander, et al., “Biomagnetic signals recorded during transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)-evoked peripheral muscular activity,” 2019. Available at: in Google Scholar

[13] M. H. Acuna, “Space-based magnetometers,” Rev. Sci. Instrum., vol. 73, no. 11, pp. 3717–3736, 2002, in Google Scholar

[14] G-864 Magnetometer, 2020. Available at: [accessed: Jul.15, 2020].Search in Google Scholar

[15] GEM GSMP Potassium Magnetometer for High Precision and Accuracy, 2020. Available at:[accessed: Jul.15, 2020].Search in Google Scholar

[16] ENVI Cs High Sensitivity Magnetometer, 2020. Available at: [accessed: Jul.15, 2020].Search in Google Scholar

[17] J. Osborne, J. Orton, O. Alem, and V. Shah, “Fully integrated standalone zero field optically pumped magnetometer for biomagnetism,” in Steep Dispersion Engineering and Opto-Atomic Precision Metrology XI, vol. 10548, International Society for Optics and Photonics, 2018, Art no. 105481G in Google Scholar

[18] QuSpin Blog, 2020. Available at: [accessed: Jul.15, 2020].Search in Google Scholar

[19] I. K. Kominis, T. W. Kornack, J. C. Allred, and M. V. Romalis, “A subfemtotesla multichannel atomic magnetometer,” Nature, vol. 422, p. 596, 2003, in Google Scholar

[20] A. Horsley and P. Treutlein, “Frequency-tunable microwave field detection in an atomic vapor cell,” Appl. Phys. Lett., vol. 108, no. 21, p. 211102, 2016, in Google Scholar

[21] J. M. Higbie, E. Corsini, and D. Budker, “Robust, high-speed, all-optical atomic magnetometer,” Rev. Sci. Instrum., vol. 77, no. 11, p. 113106, 2006, in Google Scholar

[22] J. Belfi, G. Bevilacqua, V. Biancalana, et al., “Dual channel self-oscillating optical magnetometer,” vol. 26, no. 5, pp. 910–916, 2009, issn: 0740-3224, in Google Scholar

[23] Search in Google Scholar

[24] P. Bevington, R. Gartman, and W. Chalupczak, “Alkali-metal spin maser for non-destructive tests,” Appl. Phys. Lett., vol. 115, no. 17, p. 173502, 2019, in Google Scholar

[25] S. Colombo, V. Lebedev, A. Tonyushkin, S. Pengue, and A. Weis, “Imaging magnetic nanoparticle distributions by atomic magnetometrybased susceptometry,” IEEE Trans. Med. Imag., pp. 1, 2019, issn: 1558-254X, in Google Scholar

[26] H. Yang, K. Zhang, Y. Wang, and N. Zhao, “High bandwidth three-axis magnetometer based on optically polarized 85Rb under unshielded environment,” J. Phys. Appl. Phys., vol. 53.6, 2019, Art no.065002, in Google Scholar

[27] N. Wilson, C. Perrella, R. Anderson, A. Luiten, P. Light, “Wide-bandwidth atomic magnetometry via instantaneous-phase retrieval,” Phys. Rev. Res., vol. 2, no. 1, 2020, Art no.013213. Available at:, in Google Scholar

[28] C. O’Dwyer, S. J. Ingleby, I. C. Chalmers, P. F. Griffin, and E. Riis, “A feed-forward measurement scheme for periodic noise suppression in atomic magnetometry,” Rev. Sci. Instrum., vol. 91, no. 4, 2020, Art no.045103, in Google Scholar

[29] W. Happer, “Optical pumping,” Rev. Mod. Phys., vol. 44(2), 169, 1972. in Google Scholar

[30] J. Dupont-Roc, S. Haroche, and C. Cohen-Tannoudji, “Detection of very weak magnetic fields (10 −9gauss) by 87Rb zero-field level crossing resonances,” Phys. Lett., vol. 28, pp. 638–639, 1969 Feb, in Google Scholar

[31] Search in Google Scholar

[32] Search in Google Scholar

[33] Search in Google Scholar

[34] E. M. Purcell and G. B. Field, “Influence of collisions upon population of hyperfine states in hydrogen,” Astrophys. J., vol. 124, p. 542, in Google Scholar

[35] Search in Google Scholar

[36] Search in Google Scholar

[37] Search in Google Scholar

[38] S. Colombo, V. Lebedev, A. Tonyushkin, et al., “Towards a mechanical MPI scanner based on atomic magnetometry,” Int. J. Magn. Part. Imag., vol. 3, no. 1, 2017, Art no. 1703006.Search in Google Scholar

[39] F. M. Gardner. Phaselock Techniques, Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, 2005.Search in Google Scholar

[40] Search in Google Scholar

[41] Search in Google Scholar

[42] Search in Google Scholar

[43] R. Han, M. Balabas, C. Hovde, et al., “Is light narrowing possible with dense-vapor paraffin coated cells for atomic magnetometers?,” AIP Adv., vol. 7, no. 12, 2017, Art no. 125224, in Google Scholar

[44] S. Groeger, G. Bison, J.-L. Schenker, R. Wynands, and A. Weis, “A high-sensitivity laser-pumped Mx magnetometer,” Eur. Phys. J. Atom. Mol. Opt. Phys., vol.38, no.2, pp. 239–247, 2006, issn: 14346079, in Google Scholar

[45] E. B. Alexandrov and A. K. Vershovskiy, “Mx and Mz magnetometers,” in Optical Magnetometry, D. Budker and D. F. J. Kimball, Eds., New-York, Cambridge University Press, 2013, pp. 60–84.Search in Google Scholar

[46] D. Arnold, S. Siegel, E. Grisanti, J. Wrachtrup, and I. Gerhardt, “A rubidium Mx-magnetometer for measurements on solid state spins,” Rev. Sci. Instrum., vol. 88, no. 2, 2017, Art no.023103, in Google Scholar

[47] W. Chalupczak and P. Josephs-Franks, “Alkali-metal spin maser,” Phys. Rev. Lett., vol. 115, no. 3, 2015, Art no.033004, in Google Scholar

[48] E. B. Alexandrov and V. A. Bonch-Bruevich, “Optically pumped atomic magnetometers after three decades,” Opt. Eng., vol. 31, no. 4, pp. 711–717, 1992, in Google Scholar

[49] A. Corney, Atomic and Laser Spectroscopy, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977.Search in Google Scholar

[50] S. Colombo, V. Dolgovskiy, T. Scholtes, Z. D. Grujić, V. Lebedev, and A. Weis, “Orientational dependence of optically detected magnetic resonance signals in laser-driven atomic magnetometers,” Appl. Phys. B, vol. 123, no. 1, pp. 35–0649, 2016, issn: 1432, in Google Scholar

[51] G. Bison, R. Wynands, and A. Weis, “Optimization and performance of an optical cardiomagnetometer,” J. Opt. Soc. Am. B, vol. 22.1, pp. 77–87, 2005, in Google Scholar

[52] R. Pellicer-Guridi, M. W. Vogel, D. C. Reutens, and V. Vegh, “Towards ultimate low frequency air-core magnetometer sensitivity,” Sci. Rep., vol. 7, no. 1, pp. 2269–2322, 2017, issn: 2045, in Google Scholar

Received: 2020-05-31
Accepted: 2020-07-28
Published Online: 2019-10-19
Published in Print: 2020-11-26

© 2020 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston