Quantum sensing with arbitrary frequency resolution

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Quantum sensing takes advantage of well-controlled quantum systems for performing measurements with high sensitivity and precision. We have implemented a concept for quantum sensing with arbitrary frequency resolution, independent of the qubit probe and limited only by the stability of an external synchronization clock. Our concept makes use of quantum lock-in detection to continuously probe a signal of interest. Using the electronic spin of a single nitrogen-vacancy center in diamond, we demonstrate detection of oscillating magnetic fields with a frequency resolution of 70 microhertz over a megahertz bandwidth. The continuous sampling further guarantees an enhanced sensitivity, reaching a signal-to-noise ratio in excess of 104 for a 170-nanotesla test signal measured during a 1-hour interval. Our technique has applications in magnetic resonance spectroscopy, quantum simulation, and sensitive signal detection.

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