Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Precise atomic clock may redefine time : Nature News & Comment

Precise atomic clock may redefine time : Nature News: First, like trapped-ion clocks, they measure the frequency of visible light, with a frequency tens of thousands of times higher than that of microwaves. Second, they measure the average emission frequency from several thousand trapped atoms rather than just one, and so the measurement statistics are better. The atoms are trapped in an optical lattice, rather like an electromagnetic egg box for holding atoms.

If OLCs are to succeed, however, researchers must show that one such clock ticks at exactly the same rate as another prepared in an identical way. This is what Lodewyck and colleagues have shown. They prepared optical lattices that each held about 10,000 atoms of the isotope strontium-87, and have shown that the two clocks stay in synchrony to within a precision of at least 1.5 × 10−16, which is as accurately as the experiment could measure.

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