Tech

Atomic TV broadcasts live video with lasers and clouds of massive atoms


Proving that an atomic cloud could be used as a receiver to capture video transmissions, the researchers developed an atomic television receiver. TVs use atomic clouds and lasers to transmit video signals that meet traditional resolution standards. Atom-based communication systems are said to be smaller and more noise-tolerant than conventional electronics. The atoms, used in the device, are modulated in the high-energy Rydberg state, unusually sensitive to electromagnetic fields including radio signals.

Team from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), USA, prepare gaseous rubidium atoms in the Rydberg state in a glass flask using two different colored lasers. To receive the signal, a stable radio signal is fed into a glass container filled with atoms. Here, the team was able to detect energy shifts in the Rydberg atoms modulating the carrier signal.

The modulated output is then fed to the TV, which then changes the signal to a video graphics array format for display. When a live or game video signal is displayed, input is sent from the video camera to modulate the original carrier signal. This signal is then fed to a horn antenna to direct transmission to the atoms.

The original signal carrier is used as a reference and the final video output, detected through the atoms, is compared with it for system evaluation. “We figured out how to transmit and receive video through Rydberg atom sensors. Now we’re streaming video and quantum gaming, streaming video games through atoms. We basically encoded the video game into a signal and detected it with atoms. Chris Holloway, project lead and author of the study said.

While studying, published in AVS Quantum Science, the team investigated the laser beam’s power, size, and detection method so that atoms could receive video in standard definition. The size of the laser beam affects the average time that the atoms stay in the laser’s interaction region. The time here is inversely proportional to the receiver bandwidth meaning more data is generated using a smaller beam and shorter duration.

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