Physicists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and partners have demonstrated an experimental, next-generation atomic clock – ticking at high “optical” frequencies – that is much smaller than usual, made of just three small chips plus supporting electronics and optics.
As can be seen from the main picture, it’s smaller than a coffee bean.
Described in Optica, the chip-scale clock is based on the vibrations, or “ticks”, of rubidium atoms confined in a tiny glass container, called a vapor cell, on a chip.
Two frequency combs on chips act like gears to link the atoms’ high-frequency optical ticks to a lower, widely used microwave frequency that can be used in applications. [Read more…] about NIST unveils tiny new chip for atomic clocks