An Atomic Clock with 10–18 Instability

Printer-friendly versionSend by emailPDF version

N. Hinkley, J. A. Sherman, N. B. Phillips, M. Schioppo, N. D. Lemke, K. Beloy, M. Pizzacaro, C. W. Oates and A. D. Ludlow
Science 341 1215-1218 (2013)

Atomic clocks have been instrumental in science and technology, leading to innovations such as global
positioning, advanced communications, and tests of fundamental constant variation. Timekeeping precision
at 1 part in 1018 enables new timing applications in relativistic geodesy, enhanced Earth- and space-based
navigation and telescopy, and new tests of physics beyond the standard model.

In their work, Hinkley and colleagues describe the development and operation of two optical lattice clocks,
both using spin-polarized, ultracold atomic ytterbium. A measurement comparing these systems
demonstrates an unprecedented atomic clock instability of 1.6 × 10–18 after only 7 hours of averaging.