New Chip-Based Atomic Clock Unveiled

Tyrium - June 2, 2011 08:15AM in Science & Technology

For the better part of the last decade Sandia National Labs, Draper Laboratory and Symmetricom have all worked towards a singular goal. Their aim is to crate a reliable chip-based atomic clock. This goal came about due to the myriad of problems with today's atomic clocks. The atomic clocks used today by various groups such as miners and the military are large, cumbersome, and require the use of GPS signals to work properly.  The latter of these characteristics is also the most problematic, as a GPS signal might be hard to come by hundreds of yards under the Earth's crust or in an electromagnetically jammed battlefield. Now, after ten years of work, they have released their creation. The result is an atomic clock barely larger than a quarter which consumes a mere 100 milliwatts, a paltry amount compared to the 10 watts consumed by the average atomic clock. The breakthrough technology in this tiny clock is something one might not expect. Using lasers to count atomic pulses, the clock is able to count time to the millionths of seconds.