2009

Microscale Atomic Clock Enables Applications in GPS, and Radio Channel Density

Most atomic clocks are bench-bound, and even portable units can weigh in excess of 10 pounds. This invention is a cesium laser atomic clock that can be constructed using photoresist MEMS (microelectromechanical system) technology. The glass cell measures about 1 cubic centimeter and it operates using only about tens of milliwatts of electricity. The technology can bring timing at atomic clock accuracy to applications such as GPS, frequency hopping for security, and communication channel density. By using a cesium cell, a laser diode, and a photo diode, the system requires no volume resonator to control the frequency of laser light.

By using MEMS manufacturing techniques, this miniature atomic clock offers an order of magnitude decrease in size and power consumption, and stability and accuracy comparable to atomic clocks many times its size. Because of its size and power consumption, the clock opens up new opportunities in fields that require miniature, extremely accurate clocks.

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