Atom-Based Sensors Make for Faster, More Accurate Data


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An atom-based sensor currently under development by NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) could prove to be a boon to the cell tower industry, according to the Institute. The institute reports that smaller, more precise sensors will improve the accuracy of radar and wireless communications.

“This new work, in conjunction with our previous work on atom-based sensors and receivers, gets us one step closer to a true atom-based communication system to benefit 5G and beyond,” said project leader, Chris Holloway.

Among the goals of the NIST are to continue to research advanced communications applications for 5G delivery. The new sensors rely on cesium atoms to quickly redirect incoming signals with great precision. An atom-based “mixer” decodes the signals and reconfigures them into different frequencies. A control frequency is established while the second signal then operates at a lower frequency. A laser scan of the atoms is used to measure distances between particles to gauge the direction of an incoming signal.

Since measurement standards for atoms do not change, the sensors are described by NIST as “universal.” With ongoing development, the sensors could potentially be used by 5G towers around the world to speed up communication times. 

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