Precise timekeeping is critical to metrology, forming the basis by which standards of time, length, and fundamental constants are determined. Stable clocks are particularly valuable in spectroscopy because they define the ultimate frequency precision that can be reached. In quantum metrology, the qubit coherence time defines the clock stability, from which the spectral line width and frequency precision are determined. We demonstrate a quantum sensing protocol in which the spectral precision goes beyond the sensor coherence time and is limited by the stability of a classical clock. Using this technique, we observed a precision in frequency estimation scaling in time Tas T-3/2 for classical oscillating fields. The narrow line width magnetometer based on single spins in diamond is used to sense nanoscale magnetic fields with an intrinsic frequency resolution of 607 microhertz, which is eight orders of magnitude narrower than the qubit coherence time.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by the Eurpean Union (European Research Council, DIADEM, Simulators and Interfaces with Quantum Systems, and EQuAM); Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (grants SFB/TR21 and FOR1493); Volkswagenstiftung; Israel Science Foundation (grant 1500/13); Center for Quantum Science and Technology; and Bundesministerium für Bildung, Wissenschaft, Forschung und Technologie and performed on the computational resource bwUniCluster funded by the Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts Baden-Württemberg and the Universities of the State of Baden Württemberg, Germany, within the framework program bwHPC.