Vector light enhanced atom magnetometry

V-MAG pioneers a new class of quantum magnetometers, based on spatially shaped light-atom interaction. Vector vortex light, correlated in its spatial profile and polarisation, has emerged as enabling technology with applications in communication, microscopy, imaging and sensing. Our project will explore and demonstrate the extended functionality of atomic magnetometers, optically pumped with tailored vector light beams and bring vector light enhanced magnetometry from bulky proof-of-principle experiments into the domain of practical and commercial human-oriented environments.

Optically pumped magnetometers present an attractive technological alternative to cryogenic, superconducting magnetic field sensors. They make use of the unique sensitivity of, for example, alkali atoms to optical and magnetic fields and operate by generating atomic polarization with polarised light and measuring its response to the magnitude and direction of an external magnetic field. To date, all commercial devices operate with homogeneously polarised pump light. Optical pumping with structured vector light allows us to imprint spatially varying optical polarisation onto atomic spin polarisation patterns, creating a more intricate response to external magnetic fields which will be harnessed to improve temporal and spatial resolution. This advantage will be further enhanced by the implementations with custom-designed cavities.  Our magnetometers will be realised as compact and portable vapour cell systems or hollow-core photonic crystal fibres (HCPCFs), filled with atomic vapours, with potential applications for state-of-the-art navigation and non-invasive medical diagnostics.

V-MAG will address the following challenges:

  • the capability to measure 3D vector magnetic field direction in a single-axis geometry,
  • to distinguish between bias and gradient magnetic fields,
  • and to detect time-varying magnetic fields.

Taken together, these objectives will establish a baseline for all-optical vector magnetometry based on complex vector light, with wide-ranging applications in physics, biology, geophysics, medicine, navigation and defence.



  • Coordinator: Sonja Franke-Arnold (University of Glasgow, UK)
  • Ciaran Beggan (British Geological Survey, UK)
  • Andrey Surzykov (Physikalisch Technische Bundesanstalt Braunschweig, DE)
  • Dmitry Budker (Gutenberg Universitat Mainz, DE)
  • Devang Naik (GloPhotonics, FR)
  • Benoit Debord (Institut de recherche XLIM, FR)
  • Thomas Clark (Wigner research centre for physics, Budapest, HU)

PROJECT WEBSITE: https://quantera-vmag.org/

Call year

Call 2023

Call topic

Applied Quantum Science

Area of research

Quantum metrology sensing and imaging

Start date

March 2024


36 months

Funding support

€ 1 419 221

Project status

In Progress