Timekeeping futureproofed

We have created an ‘eternal engine’ to keep the next generation of atomic clock ticking.

In an increasingly uncertain world, quantum clocks hold the key to better ways to communicate, navigate, map the earth and explore space - providing the stability and precision that GNSS networks cannot.

A major barrier in the development of portable atomic clocks has been how to reliably activate their counting device – and keep it running.

Until now.

The Emergent Photonics Research Centre introduces a resilient, set-and-forget solution that opens an array of applications - blending ultraprecise timekeeping and spectroscopy to transform the future.

The set-and-forget solution is a key enabler in the deployment of portable atomic clocks for advancing technology and fundamental science.

Based on an integrated optical microcavity, our laser produces a train of optical pulses called an optical frequency comb. A comb can be perfectly synchronised to the ultraprecise frequency reference of revolutionary next generation optical atomic clocks and act as the lancet of the clock itself.

Thanks to our distinctive technology - using the optical microcavity inside a robust fibre laser - our system is resilient to disruption. It can self-recover the necessary soliton pulses required to count the oscillation of the clock and keep it running.

Self-emergence of robust solitons in a microcavity

Published in the journal Nature in August 2022, our article is an open access publication in collaboration with the University of Sussex, City University of Hong Kong, the Xi’an Institute of Optics and Precision Mechanics (China), Swinburne University of Technology (Australia), the Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique (INRS, Canada) and the University of Strathclyde.

Read the article