FOCS 1, a continuous cold caesium fountain atomic clock in Switzerland, started operating in 2004 at an uncertainty of one second in 30 million years.
|Application||TAI, satellite navigation|
An atomic clock is a clock device (time standard) that uses a hyperfine transition frequency in the microwave, or electron transition frequency in the optical or ultraviolet regionof the electromagnetic spectrum of atoms as a frequency standard for its timekeeping element. Atomic clocks are the most accurate time and frequency standards known, and are used as primary standards for international time distribution services, to control the wave frequency of television broadcasts, and in global navigation satellite systems such as GPS.
The principle of operation of an atomic clock is based on atomic physics; it measures the electromagnetic signal that electrons in atoms emit when they change energy levels. Early atomic clocks were based on masers at room temperature. Since 2004, more accurate atomic clocks first cool the atoms to near absolute zero temperature by slowing them with lasers and probing them in atomic fountains in a microwave-filled cavity. An example of this is the NIST-F1 atomic clock, one of the national primary time and frequency standards of the United States.
The accuracy of an atomic clock depends on two factors: the first is temperature of the sample atoms—colder atoms move much more slowly, allowing longer probe times, the second is the frequency and intrinsic linewidth of the electronic or hyperfine transition. Higher frequencies and narrow lines increase the precision.
National standards agencies in many countries maintain a network of atomic clocks which are intercompared and kept synchronized to an accuracy of 10−9 seconds per day (approximately 1 part in 1014). These clocks collectively define a continuous and stable time scale, the International Atomic Time (TAI). For civil time, another time scale is disseminated, Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). UTC is derived from TAI, but has added leap seconds from UT1, to account for variations in the rotation of the Earth with respect to the solar time.
The idea of using atomic transitions to measure time was suggested by Lord Kelvin in 1879. MHz built in 1949 at the U.S. National Bureau of Standards (NBS, now NIST). It was less accurate than existing quartz clocks, but served to demonstrate the concept. The first accurate atomic clock, a caesium standard based on a certain transition of the caesium-133 atom, was built by Louis Essen and Jack Parry in 1955 at the National Physical Laboratory in the UK. Calibration of the caesium standard atomic clock was carried out by the use of the astronomical time scale ephemeris time (ET). In 1967, this led the scientific community to redefine the second in terms of a specific atomic frequency. Equality of the ET second with the (atomic clock) SI second has been verified to within 1 part in 1010. The SI second thus inherits the effect of decisions by the original designers of the ephemeris time scale, determining the length of the ET second.Magnetic resonance, developed in the 1930s by Isidor Rabi, became the practical method for doing this. In 1945, Rabi first publicly suggested that atomic beam magnetic resonance might be used as the basis of a clock. The first atomic clock was an ammonia absorption line device at 23870.1
Since the beginning of development in the 1950s, atomic clocks have been based on the hyperfine transitions in hydrogen-1, caesium-133, and rubidium-87. The first commercial atomic clock was the Atomichron, manufactured by the National Company. More than 50 were sold between 1956 and 1960. This bulky and expensive instrument was subsequently replaced by much smaller rack-mountable devices, such as the Hewlett-Packard model 5060 caesium frequency standard, released in 1964.
In the late 1990s, four factors contributed to major advances in clocks:
In August 2004, NIST scientists demonstrated a chip-scale atomic clock. mW, making it suitable for battery-driven applications. This technology became available commercially in 2011. Ion trap experimental optical clocks are more precise than the current caesium standard.According to the researchers, the clock was believed to be one-hundredth the size of any other. It requires no more than 125
In April 2015, NASA announced that it planned to deploy a Deep Space Atomic Clock (DSAC), a miniaturized, ultra-precise mercury-ion atomic clock, into outer space. NASA said that the DSAC would be much more stable than other navigational clocks.
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Since 1968, the International System of Units (SI) has defined the second as the duration of 9192631770 cycles of radiation corresponding to the transition between two energy levels of the ground state of the caesium-133 atom. In 1997, the International Committee for Weights and Measures (CIPM) added that the preceding definition refers to a caesium atom at rest at a temperature of absolute zero.
This definition makes the caesium oscillator the primary standard for time and frequency measurements, called the caesium standard. The definitions of other physical units, e.g., the volt and the metre, rely on the definition of the second.
In this particular design, the time-reference of an atomic clock consists of an electronic oscillator operating at microwave frequency. The oscillator is arranged so that its frequency-determining components include an element that can be controlled by a feedback signal. The feedback signal keeps the oscillator tuned in resonance with the frequency of the hyperfine transition of caesium or rubidium.
The core of the radio frequency atomic clock is a tunable microwave cavity containing a gas. In a hydrogen maser clock the gas emits microwaves (the gas mases ) on a hyperfine transition, the field in the cavity oscillates, and the cavity is tuned for maximum microwave amplitude. Alternatively, in a caesium or rubidium clock, the beam or gas absorbs microwaves and the cavity contains an electronic amplifier to make it oscillate. For both types the atoms in the gas are prepared in one hyperfine state prior to filling them into the cavity. For the second type the number of atoms which change hyperfine state is detected and the cavity is tuned for a maximum of detected state changes.
Most of the complexity of the clock lies in this adjustment process. The adjustment tries to correct for unwanted side-effects, such as frequencies from other electron transitions, temperature changes, and the spreading in frequencies caused by ensemble effects.[ clarification needed ] One way of doing this is to sweep the microwave oscillator's frequency across a narrow range to generate a modulated signal at the detector. The detector's signal can then be demodulated to apply feedback to control long-term drift in the radio frequency. In this way, the quantum-mechanical properties of the atomic transition frequency of the caesium can be used to tune the microwave oscillator to the same frequency, except for a small amount of experimental error. When a clock is first turned on, it takes a while for the oscillator to stabilize. In practice, the feedback and monitoring mechanism is much more complex.
A number of other atomic clock schemes used for other purposes. Rubidium standard clocks are prized for their low cost, small size (commercial standards are as small as 17 cm3) and short-term stability. They are used in many commercial, portable and aerospace applications. Hydrogen masers (often manufactured in Russia) have superior short-term stability compared to other standards, but lower long-term accuracy.
Often, one standard is used to fix another. For example, some commercial applications use a rubidium standard periodically corrected by a global positioning system receiver (see GPS disciplined oscillator). This achieves excellent short-term accuracy, with long-term accuracy equal to (and traceable to) the U.S. national time standards.
The lifetime of a standard is an important practical issue. Modern rubidium standard tubes last more than ten years, and can cost as little as US$50.[ citation needed ] Caesium reference tubes suitable for national standards currently last about seven years and cost about US$35,000. The long-term stability of hydrogen maser standards decreases because of changes in the cavity's properties over time.
Modern clocks use magneto-optical traps to cool the atoms for improved precision.
The power consumption of atomic clocks varies with their size. Atomic clocks on the scale of one chip require less than 30 milliwatt;Primary frequency and time standards like the United States Time Standard atomic clocks, NIST-F1 and NIST-F2, use far higher power.
The evaluated accuracy uB reports of various primary frequency and time standards are published online by the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM). Several frequency and time standards groups as of 2015 reported uB values in the 2 × 10−16 to 3 × 10−16 range.
In 2011, the NPL-CsF2 caesium fountain clock operated by the National Physical Laboratory (NPL), which serves as the United Kingdom primary frequency and time standard, was improved regarding the two largest sources of measurement uncertainties — distributed cavity phase and microwave lensing frequency shifts. In 2011 this resulted in an evaluated frequency uncertainty reduction from uB = 4.1 × 10−16 to uB = 2.3 × 10−16;— the lowest value for any primary national standard at the time. At this frequency uncertainty, the NPL-CsF2 is expected to neither gain nor lose a second in about 138 million (138 × 106) years.
The NIST-F2 caesium fountain clock operated by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), was officially launched in April 2014, to serve as a new U.S. civilian frequency and time standard, along with the NIST-F1 standard. The planned uB performance level of NIST-F2 is 1 × 10−16. "At this planned performance level the NIST-F2 clock will not lose a second in at least 300 million years." NIST-F2 was designed using lessons learned from NIST-F1. The NIST-F2 key advance compared to the NIST-F1 is that the vertical flight tube is now chilled inside a container of liquid nitrogen, at −193 °C (−315.4 °F). This cycled cooling dramatically lowers the background radiation and thus reduces some of the very small measurement errors that must be corrected in NIST-F1.
The first in-house accuracy evaluation of NIST-F2 reported a uB of 1.1 × 10−16. However, a published scientific criticism of that NIST F-2 accuracy evaluation described problems in its treatment of distributed cavity phase shifts and the microwave lensing frequency shift, which is treated significantly differently than in the majority of accurate fountain clock evaluations. The next NIST-F2 submission to the BIPM in March, 2015 again reported a uB of 1.5 × 10−16, but did not address the standing criticism. There have been neither subsequent reports to the BIPM from NIST-F2 nor has an updated accuracy evaluation been published.
At the request of the Italian standards organization, NIST fabricated many duplicate components for a second version of NIST-F2, known as IT-CsF2 to be operated by the Istituto Nazionale di Ricerca Metrologica (INRiM), NIST's counterpart in Turin, Italy. As of February 2016 the IT-CsF2 caesium fountain clock started reporting a uB of 1.7 × 10−16 in the BIPM reports of evaluation of primary frequency standards.
Most research focuses on the often conflicting goals of making the clocks smaller, cheaper, more portable, more energy efficient, more accurate, more stable and more reliable.The Atomic Clock Ensemble in Space is an example of clock research.
A list of frequencies recommended for secondary representations of the second is maintained by the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM) since 2006 and is available online. The list contains the frequency values and the respective standard uncertainties for the rubidium microwave transition and for several optical transitions. These secondary frequency standards are accurate at the level of parts in 10−18; however, the uncertainties provided in the list are in the range of parts in 10−14 – 10−15 since they are limited by the linking to the caesium primary standard that currently (2015) defines the second.
|relative Allan deviation |
|133Cs||9 192 631 770||by definition||10−13|
|87Rb||6 834 682 610||.904 324||10−12|
|1H||1 420 405 751||.7667||10−15|
|Optical clock (87Sr)||429 228 004 229 873||.4||10−17|
For context, a femtosecond (1×10−15 s) is to a second what a second is to about 31.71 million (31.71×106) years and an attosecond (1×10−18 s) is to a second what a second is to about 31.71 billion (31.71×109) years.
21st century experimental atomic clocks that provide non-caesium-based secondary representations of the second are becoming so precise that they are likely to be used as extremely sensitive detectors for other things besides measuring frequency and time. For example, the frequency of atomic clocks is altered slightly by gravity, magnetic fields, electrical fields, force, motion, temperature and other phenomena. The experimental clocks tend to continue improving, and leadership in performance has been shifted back and forth between various types of experimental clocks.
In March 2008, physicists at NIST described a quantum logic clock based on individual ions of beryllium and aluminium. This clock was compared to NIST's mercury ion clock. These were the most accurate clocks that had been constructed, with neither clock gaining nor losing time at a rate that would exceed a second in over a billion years. 8.6 × 10−18, it offers more than twice the precision of the original. In July 2019, NIST scientists demonstrated such an Al+ Quantum-Logic clock with total uncertainty of 9.4 × 10−19, which is the first demonstration of such a clock with uncertainty below 10−18.In February 2010, NIST physicists described a second, enhanced version of the quantum logic clock based on individual ions of magnesium and aluminium. Considered the world's most precise clock in 2010 with a fractional frequency inaccuracy of
The accuracy of experimental quantum clocks has since been superseded by experimental optical lattice clocks based on strontium-87 and ytterbium-171.
The theoretical move from microwaves as the atomic "escapement" for clocks to light in the optical range (harder to measure but offering better performance) earned John L. Hall and Theodor W. Hänsch the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2005. One of 2012's Physics Nobelists, David J. Wineland, is a pioneer in exploiting the properties of a single ion held in a trap to develop clocks of the highest stability.
New technologies, such as femtosecond frequency combs, optical lattices, and quantum information, have enabled prototypes of next-generation atomic clocks. These clocks are based on optical rather than microwave transitions. A major obstacle to developing an optical clock is the difficulty of directly measuring optical frequencies. This problem has been solved with the development of self-referenced mode-locked lasers, commonly referred to as femtosecond frequency combs. Before the demonstration of the frequency comb in 2000, terahertz techniques were needed to bridge the gap between radio and optical frequencies, and the systems for doing so were cumbersome and complicated. With the refinement of the frequency comb, these measurements have become much more accessible and numerous optical clock systems are now being developed around the world.
As in the radio range, absorption spectroscopy is used to stabilize an oscillator—in this case a laser. When the optical frequency is divided down into a countable radio frequency using a femtosecond comb, the bandwidth of the phase noise is also divided by that factor. Although the bandwidth of laser phase noise is generally greater than stable microwave sources, after division it is less.
The primary systems under consideration for use in optical frequency standards are:
These techniques allow the atoms or ions to be highly isolated from external perturbations, thus producing an extremely stable frequency reference.
Atomic systems under consideration include Al +, Hg +/2+,Hg, Sr, Sr +/2+, In +/3+, Mg, Ca, Ca +, Yb +/2+/3+, Yb and Th +/3+.
The rare-earth element ytterbium (Yb) is valued not so much for its mechanical properties but for its complement of internal energy levels. "A particular transition in Yb atoms, at a wavelength of 578 nm, currently provides one of the world's most accurate optical atomic frequency standards," said Marianna Safronova.The estimated amount of uncertainty achieved corresponds to a Yb clock uncertainty of about one second over the lifetime of the universe so far, 15 billion years, according to scientists at the Joint Quantum Institute (JQI) and the University of Delaware in December 2012.
In 2013 optical lattice clocks (OLCs) were shown to be as good as or better than caesium fountain clocks. Two optical lattice clocks containing about 10 000 atoms of strontium-87 were able to stay in synchrony with each other at a precision of at least 1.5 × 10−16, which is as accurate as the experiment could measure. These clocks have been shown to keep pace with all three of the caesium fountain clocks at the Paris Observatory. There are two reasons for the possibly better precision. Firstly, the frequency is measured using light, which has a much higher frequency than microwaves, and secondly, by using many atoms, any errors are averaged. Using ytterbium-171 atoms, a new record for stability with a precision of 1.6×10−18 over a 7-hour period was published on 22 August 2013. At this stability, the two optical lattice clocks working independently from each other used by the NIST research team would differ less than a second over the age of the universe (13.8×109 years); this was 10 times better than previous experiments. The clocks rely on 10 000 ytterbium atoms cooled to 10 microkelvin and trapped in an optical lattice. A laser at 578 nm excites the atoms between two of their energy levels. Having established the stability of the clocks, the researchers are studying external influences and evaluating the remaining systematic uncertainties, in the hope that they can bring the clock's accuracy down to the level of its stability. An improved optical lattice clock was described in a 2014 Nature paper. In 2015 JILA evaluated the absolute frequency uncertainty of a strontium-87 optical lattice clock at 2.1 × 10−18, which corresponds to a measurable gravitational time dilation for an elevation change of 2 cm (0.79 in) on planet Earth that according to JILA/NIST Fellow Jun Ye is "getting really close to being useful for relativistic geodesy". At this frequency uncertainty, this JILA optical lattice clock is expected to neither gain nor lose a second in more than 15 billion (15 × 109) years.
In 2017 JILA reported an experimental 3D quantum gas strontium optical lattice clock in which strontium-87 atoms are packed into a tiny three-dimensional (3-D) cube at 1,000 times the density of previous one-dimensional (1-D) clocks, like the 2015 JILA clock. A synchronous clock comparison between two regions of the 3D lattice yielded a record level of synchronization of 5 × 10−19 in 1 hour of averaging time. The 3D quantum gas strontium optical lattice clock's centerpiece is an unusual state of matter called a degenerate Fermi gas (a quantum gas for Fermi particles). The experimental data shows the 3D quantum gas clock achieved a precision of 3.5 × 10−19 in about two hours. According to Jun Ye "This represents a significant improvement over any previous demonstrations." Ye further commented "The most important potential of the 3D quantum gas clock is the ability to scale up the atom numbers, which will lead to a huge gain in stability." and "The ability to scale up both the atom number and coherence time will make this new-generation clock qualitatively different from the previous generation." In 2018 JILA reported the 3D quantum gas clock reached a frequency precision of 2.5 × 10−19 over 6 hours. At this frequency uncertainty, this 3D quantum gas clock would lose or gain about 0.1 seconds over the age of the universe.
Optical clocks are currently (2019) still primarily research projects, less mature than rubidium and caesium microwave standards, which regularly deliver time to the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM) for establishing International Atomic Time (TAI).As the optical experimental clocks move beyond their microwave counterparts in terms of accuracy and stability performance this puts them in a position to replace the current standard for time, the caesium fountain clock. In the future this might lead to redefine the caesium microwave based SI second and other new dissemination techniques at the highest level of accuracy to transfer clock signals will be required that can be used in both shorter-range and longer-range (frequency) comparisons between better clocks and to explore their fundamental limitations without significantly compromising their performance.
One theoretical possibility for improving the performance of atomic clocks is to use a nuclear energy transition (between different nuclear isomers) rather than the atomic electron transitions which current atomic clocks measure. Most nuclear transitions operate at far too high a frequency to be measured, but in 2003, Ekkehard Peik and Christian Tamm 229m
is within reach of current frequency-measurement techniques, making a clock possible. In 2012 it was shown, that a nuclear clock based on a single 229
ion could provide a total fractional frequency inaccuracy of 1.5 × 10−19, which is better than existing 2019 atomic clock technology. Although it remains an unrealized theoretical possibility, as of 2019 [update] significant progress toward the development of an experimental nuclear clock has been made.
A nuclear energy transition offers the following potential advantages:
In June 2015, the European National Physical Laboratory (NPL) in Teddington, UK; the French department of Time-Space Reference Systems at the Paris Observatory (LNE-SYRTE); the German German National Metrology Institute (PTB) in Braunschweig; and Italy's Istituto Nazionale di Ricerca Metrologica (INRiM) in Turin labs have started tests to improve the accuracy of current state-of-the-art satellite comparisons by a factor 10, but it will still be limited to one part in 1 × 10−16. These 4 European labs are developing and host a variety of experimental optical clocks that harness different elements in different experimental set-ups and want to compare their optical clocks against each other and check whether they agree. In a next phase these labs strive to transmit comparison signals in the visible spectrum through fibre-optic cables. This will allow their experimental optical clocks to be compared with an accuracy similar to the expected accuracies of the optical clocks themselves. Some of these labs have already established fibre-optic links, and tests have begun on sections between Paris and Teddington, and Paris and Braunschweig. Fibre-optic links between experimental optical clocks also exist between the American NIST lab and its partner lab JILA, both in Boulder, Colorado but these span much shorter distances than the European network and are between just two labs. According to Fritz Riehle, a physicist at PTB, "Europe is in a unique position as it has a high density of the best clocks in the world". In August 2016 the French LNE-SYRTE in Paris and German PTB in Braunschweig reported the comparison and agreement of two fully independent experimental strontium lattice optical clocks in Paris and Braunschweig at an uncertainty of 5 × 10−17 via a newly established phase-coherent frequency link connecting Paris and Braunschweig, using 1,415 km (879 mi ) of telecom fibre-optic cable. The fractional uncertainty of the whole link was assessed to be 2.5 × 10−19, making comparisons of even more accurate clocks possible.
The development of atomic clocks has led to many scientific and technological advances such as a system of precise global and regional navigation satellite systems, and applications in the Internet, which depend critically on frequency and time standards. Atomic clocks are installed at sites of time signal radio transmitters. They are used at some long wave and medium wave broadcasting stations to deliver a very precise carrier frequency.[ citation needed ] Atomic clocks are used in many scientific disciplines, such as for long-baseline interferometry in radioastronomy.
The Global Positioning System (GPS) operated by the US Air Force Space Command provides very accurate timing and frequency signals. A GPS receiver works by measuring the relative time delay of signals from a minimum of four, but usually more, GPS satellites, each of which has at least two onboard caesium and as many as two rubidium atomic clocks. The relative times are mathematically transformed into three absolute spatial coordinates and one absolute time coordinate.GPS Time (GPST) is a continuous time scale and theoretically accurate to about 14 ns. However, most receivers lose accuracy in the interpretation of the signals and are only accurate to 100 ns. The GPST is related to but differs from TAI (International Atomic Time) and UTC (Coordinated Universal Time). GPST remains at a constant offset with TAI (TAI – GPST = 19 seconds) and like TAI does not implement leap seconds. Periodic corrections are performed to the on-board clocks in the satellites to keep them synchronized with ground clocks. The GPS navigation message includes the difference between GPST and UTC. As of July 2015, GPST is 17 seconds ahead of UTC because of the leap second added to UTC on 30 June 2015. Receivers subtract this offset from GPS Time to calculate UTC and specific time zone values.
The GLObal NAvigation Satellite System (GLONASS) operated by the Russian Aerospace Defence Forces provides an alternative to the Global Positioning System (GPS) system and is the second navigational system in operation with global coverage and of comparable precision. GLONASS Time (GLONASST) is generated by the GLONASS Central Synchroniser and is typically better than 1,000 ns.Unlike GPS, the GLONASS time scale implements leap seconds, like UTC.
The Galileo Global Navigation Satellite System is operated by the European GNSS Agency and European Space Agency and is near to achieving full operating global coverage. Galileo started offering global Early Operational Capability (EOC) on 15 December 2016, providing the third and first non-military operated Global Navigation Satellite System, and is expected to reach Full Operational Capability (FOC) in 2019.To achieve Galileo's FOC coverage constellation goal 6 planned extra satellites need to be added. Galileo System Time (GST) is a continuous time scale which is generated on the ground at the Galileo Control Centre in Fucino, Italy, by the Precise Timing Facility, based on averages of different atomic clocks and maintained by the Galileo Central Segment and synchronised with TAI with a nominal offset below 50 ns. According to the European GNSS Agency Galileo offers 30 ns timing accuracy. The March 2018 Quarterly Performance Report by the European GNSS Service Centre reported the UTC Time Dissemination Service Accuracy was ≤ 7.6 ns, computed by accumulating samples over the previous 12 months and exceeding the ≤ 30 ns target. Each Galileo satellite has two passive hydrogen maser and two rubidium atomic clocks for onboard timing. The Galileo navigation message includes the differences between GST, UTC and GPST (to promote interoperability).
The BeiDou-2/BeiDou-3 satellite navigation system is operated by the China National Space Administration and is also near to achieving full-scale global coverage. BeiDou Time (BDT) is a continuous time scale starting at 1 January 2006 at 0:00:00 UTC and is synchronised with UTC within 100 ns.BeiDou became operational in China in December 2011, with 10 satellites in use, and began offering services to customers in the Asia-Pacific region in December 2012. On 27 December 2018 the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System started to provide global services with a reported timing accuracy of 20 ns. The BeiDou global navigation system should be finished by 2020.
A radio clock is a clock that automatically synchronizes itself by means of government radio time signals received by a radio receiver. Many retailers market radio clocks inaccurately as atomic clocks; Hz bandwidth) with small ferrite loopstick antennas and circuits with non optimal digital signal processing delay and can therefore only be expected to determine the beginning of a second with a practical accuracy uncertainty of ± 0.1 second. This is sufficient for radio controlled low cost consumer grade clocks and watches using standard-quality quartz clocks for timekeeping between daily synchronization attempts, as they will be most accurate immediately after a successful synchronization and will become less accurate from that point forward until the next synchronization. Instrument grade time receivers provide higher accuracy. Such devices incur a transit delay of approximately 1 ms for every 300 kilometres (186 mi) of distance from the radio transmitter. Many governments operate transmitters for time-keeping purposes.although the radio signals they receive originate from atomic clocks, they are not atomic clocks themselves. Normal low cost consumer grade receivers solely rely on the amplitude-modulated time signals and use narrow band receivers (with 10
International Atomic Time is a high-precision atomic coordinate time standard based on the notional passage of proper time on Earth's geoid. It is the principal realisation of Terrestrial Time. It is also the basis for Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), which is used for civil timekeeping all over the Earth's surface. As of 1 January 2017, when another leap second was added, TAI is exactly 37 seconds ahead of UTC. The 37 seconds results from the initial difference of 10 seconds at the start of 1972, plus 27 leap seconds in UTC since 1972.
A clock is a device used to measure, keep, and indicate time. The clock is one of the oldest human inventions, meeting the need to measure intervals of time shorter than the natural units: the day, the lunar month, and the year. Devices operating on several physical processes have been used over the millennia.
The hertz (symbol: Hz) is the derived unit of frequency in the International System of Units (SI) and is defined as one cycle per second. It is named after Heinrich Rudolf Hertz, the first person to provide conclusive proof of the existence of electromagnetic waves. Hertz are commonly expressed in multiples: kilohertz (103 Hz, kHz), megahertz (106 Hz, MHz), gigahertz (109 Hz, GHz), terahertz (1012 Hz, THz), petahertz (1015 Hz, PHz), exahertz (1018 Hz, EHz), and zettahertz (1021 Hz, ZHz).
The second is the base unit of time in the International System of Units (SI), commonly understood and historically defined as 1⁄86400 of a day – this factor derived from the division of the day first into 24 hours, then to 60 minutes and finally to 60 seconds each. Analog clocks and watches often have sixty tick marks on their faces, representing seconds, and a "second hand" to mark the passage of time in seconds. Digital clocks and watches often have a two-digit seconds counter. The second is also part of several other units of measurement like meters per second for velocity, meters per second per second for acceleration, and cycles per second for frequency.
The caesium standard is a primary frequency standard in which the photon absorption by transitions between the two hyperfine ground states of caesium-133 atoms are used to control the output frequency. The first caesium clock was built by Louis Essen in 1955 at the National Physical Laboratory in the UK. and promoted worldwide by Gernot M. R. Winkler of the USNO.
A rubidium standard or rubidium atomic clock is a frequency standard in which a specified hyperfine transition of electrons in rubidium-87 atoms is used to control the output frequency. It is the most inexpensive, compact, and widely produced atomic clock, used to control the frequency of television stations, cell phone base stations, in test equipment, and global navigation satellite systems like GPS. Commercial rubidium clocks are less accurate than caesium atomic clocks, which serve as primary frequency standards, so the rubidium clock is a secondary frequency standard.
A radio clock or radio-controlled clock (RCC) is a clock or watch that is automatically synchronized to a time code transmitted by a radio transmitter connected to a time standard such as an atomic clock. Such a clock may be synchronized to the time sent by a single transmitter, such as many national or regional time transmitters, or may use the multiple transmitters used by satellite navigation systems such as GPS. Such systems may be used to automatically set clocks or for any purpose where accurate time is needed. RC clocks may include any feature available for a clock, such as alarm function, display of ambient temperature and humidity, broadcast radio reception, etc.
The Primary Atomic Reference Clock in Space or PARCS was an atomic-clock mission scheduled to fly on the International Space Station (ISS) in 2008, but cancelled to make way for the Vision for Space Exploration. The mission, to have been funded by NASA, involved a laser-cooled caesium atomic clock, and a time-transfer system using Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites. PARCS was to fly concurrently with the Superconducting Microwave Oscillator (SUMO) a different type of clock that was to be compared against the PARCS clock to test certain theories. The objectives of the mission were to have been:
NIST-F1 is a cesium fountain clock, a type of atomic clock, in the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Boulder, Colorado, and serves as the United States' primary time and frequency standard. The clock took less than four years to test and build, and was developed by Steve Jefferts and Dawn Meekhof of the Time and Frequency Division of NIST's Physical Measurement Laboratory.
A chip scale atomic clock (CSAC) is a compact, low-power atomic clock fabricated using techniques of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) and incorporating a low-power semiconductor laser as the light source. The first CSAC physics package was demonstrated at NIST in 2003, based on an invention made in 2001. The work was funded by the US Department of Defense's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) with the goal of developing a microchip-sized atomic clock for use in portable equipment. In military equipment it is expected to provide improved location and battlespace situational awareness for dismounted soldiers when the global positioning system is not available, but many civilian applications are also envisioned. Commercial manufacturing of these atomic clocks began in 2011. The CSAC, the world's smallest atomic clock, is 4 x 3.5 x 1 cm in size, weighs 35 grams, consumes only 115 mW of power, and can keep time to within 100 microseconds per day after several years of operation.
NIST-F2 is a caesium fountain atomic clock that, along with NIST-F1, serves as the United States' primary time and frequency standard. NIST-F2 was brought online on 3 April 2014.
A nuclear clock or nuclear optical clock is a notional clock that would use the frequency of a nuclear transition as its reference frequency, in the same manner as an atomic clock uses the frequency of an electronic transition in an atom's shell. Such a clock is expected to be more accurate than the best current atomic clocks by a factor of about 10, with an achievable accuracy approaching the 10−19 level. The only nuclear state suitable for the development of a nuclear clock using existing technology is thorium-229m, a nuclear isomer of thorium-229 and the lowest-energy nuclear isomer known. With an energy of 8.28 ± 0.17 eV, the corresponding ground-state transition is expected to be in the vacuum ultraviolet wavelength region around 150 nm, which would make it accessible to laser excitation.
An atomic fountain is a cloud of atoms that is tossed upwards in the Earth's gravitational field by lasers. If it were visible, it would resemble the water in a fountain. While weightless in the toss, the atoms are measured to set the frequency of an atomic clock.
A conventional electrical unit is a unit of measurement in the field of electricity which is based on the so-called "conventional values" of the Josephson constant, the von Klitzing constant agreed by the International Committee for Weights and Measures (CIPM) in 1988, as well as ΔνCs used to define the second. These units are very similar in scale to their corresponding SI units, but are not identical because of the different values used for the constants. They are distinguished from the corresponding SI units by setting the symbol in italic typeface and adding a subscript "90" – e.g., the conventional volt has the symbol V90 – as they came into international use on 1 January 1990.
Time in physics is defined by its measurement: time is what a clock reads. In classical, non-relativistic physics it is a scalar quantity and, like length, mass, and charge, is usually described as a fundamental quantity. Time can be combined mathematically with other physical quantities to derive other concepts such as motion, kinetic energy and time-dependent fields. Timekeeping is a complex of technological and scientific issues, and part of the foundation of recordkeeping.
A quantum clock is a type of atomic clock with laser cooled single ions confined together in an electromagnetic ion trap. Developed in 2010 by National Institute of Standards and Technology physicists, the clock was 37 times more precise than the then-existing international standard. The quantum logic clock is based on an aluminium spectroscopy ion with a logic atom.
Length measurement is implemented in practice in many ways. The most commonly used approaches are the transit-time methods and the interferometer methods based upon the speed of light. For objects such as crystals and diffraction gratings, diffraction is used with X-rays and electron beams. Measurement techniques for three-dimensional structures very small in every dimension use specialized instruments such as ion microscopy coupled with intensive computer modeling.
Jun Ye is a Chinese-American physicist at JILA, National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the University of Colorado Boulder, working primarily in the field of atomic, molecular and optical physics.
Patrick Gill, is a Senior NPL Fellow in Time & Frequency at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) in the UK.
The magic wavelength is the wavelength of an optical lattice where the polarizabilities of two atomic clock states have the same value, such that the AC Stark shift caused by the laser intensity fluctuation has no effect on the transition frequency between the two clock states.