Abstract:Precise frequency measurements are important in applications ranging from navigation and imaging to computation and communication. Here we outline the optimal quantum strategies for frequency discrimination and estimation in the context of quantum spectroscopy, and we compare the effectiveness of different readout strategies. Using a single NV center in diamond, we implement the optimal frequency discrimination protocol to discriminate two frequencies separated by 2 kHz with a single 44 μs measurement, a factor of ten below the Fourier limit. For frequency estimation, we achieve a frequency sensitivity of 1.6 µHz/Hz2 for a 1.7 µT amplitude signal, which is within a factor of 2 from the quantum limit. Our results are foundational for discrimination and estimation problems in nanoscale nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy.