Laser controlled atom source for optical clocks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Authors

Colleges, School and Institutes

Abstract

Precision timekeeping has been a driving force in innovation, from defining agricultural seasons to atomic clocks enabling satellite navigation, broadband communication and high-speed trading. We are on the verge of a revolution in atomic timekeeping, where optical clocks promise an over thousand-fold improvement in stability and accuracy. However, complex setups and sensitivity to thermal radiation pose limitations to progress. Here we report on an atom source for a strontium optical lattice clock which circumvents these limitations. We demonstrate fast (sub 100ms), cold and controlled emission of strontium atomic vapours from bulk strontium oxide irradiated by a simple low power diode laser. Our results demonstrate that millions of strontium atoms from the vapour can be captured in a magneto-optical trap (MOT). Our method enables over an order of magnitude reduction in scale of the apparatus. Future applications range from satellite clocks testing general relativity to portable clocks for inertial navigation systems and relativistic geodesy.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Article numberSREP-15-34083B
JournalScientific Reports
Volume6
Early online date18 Nov 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2016