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Phys Rev Lett. 2018 Jan 19;120(3):033202. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.120.033202.

Suppression of the Nonlinear Zeeman Effect and Heading Error in Earth-Field-Range Alkali-Vapor Magnetometers.

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Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz, 55128 Mainz, Germany.
Department of Physics, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200062, China.
Rochester Scientific, LLC, El Cerrito, California 94530, USA.
School of Physics and Astronomy, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, and Tsung-Dao Lee Institute, Shanghai 200240, China.
Colleaborative Innovation Center of Extreme Optics, Shanxi University, Taiyuan, Shanxi 030006, China.
Helmholtz Institut Mainz, 55099 Mainz, Germany.
Department of Physics, University of California, Berkeley, California 94720-7300, USA.
Nuclear Science Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, California 94720, USA.


The nonlinear Zeeman effect can induce splitting and asymmetries of magnetic-resonance lines in the geophysical magnetic-field range. This is a major source of "heading error" for scalar atomic magnetometers. We demonstrate a method to suppress the nonlinear Zeeman effect and heading error based on spin locking. In an all-optical synchronously pumped magnetometer with separate pump and probe beams, we apply a radio-frequency field which is in phase with the precessing magnetization. This results in the collapse of the multicomponent asymmetric magnetic-resonance line with ∼100  Hz width in the Earth-field range into a single peak with a width of 22 Hz, whose position is largely independent of the orientation of the sensor within a range of orientation angles. The technique is expected to be broadly applicable in practical magnetometry, potentially boosting the sensitivity and accuracy of Earth-surveying magnetometers by increasing the magnetic-resonance amplitude, decreasing its width, and removing the important and limiting heading-error systematic.

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