An atomic clock is a clock device that uses an electron transition frequency in the microwave, optical, or ultraviolet region of the electromagnetic spectrum of atoms as a frequency standard for its timekeeping element. Atomic clocks are the most accurate time and frequency standards known, and are used as primary standards for international time distribution services, to control the wave frequency of television broadcasts, and in global navigation satellite systems such as GPS.
The principle of operation of an atomic clock is based on atomic physics; it measures the electromagnetic signal that electrons in atoms emit when they change energy levels. Early atomic clocks were based on masers at room temperature. Since 2004, more accurate atomic clocks first cool the atoms to near absolute zero temperature by slowing them with lasers and probing them in atomic fountains in a microwave-filled cavity. An example of this is the NIST-F1 atomic clock, one of the national primary time and frequency standards of the United States.
The accuracy of an atomic clock depends on two factors. The first factor is temperature of the sample atoms—colder atoms move much more slowly, allowing longer probe times. The second factor is the frequency and intrinsic width of the electronic transition. Higher frequencies and narrow lines increase the precision.
National standards agencies in many countries maintain a network of atomic clocks which are intercompared and kept synchronized to an accuracy of 10−9 seconds per day (approximately 1 part in 1014). These clocks collectively define a continuous and stable time scale, the International Atomic Time (TAI). For civil time, another time scale is disseminated, Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). UTC is derived from TAI, but has added leap seconds from UT1, to account for variations in the rotation of the Earth with respect to the solar time.
FOCS 1, a continuous cold caesium fountain atomic clock in Switzerland, started operating in 2004 at an uncertainty of one second in 30 million years.
|Application||TAI, satellite navigation|
The idea of using atomic transitions to measure time was suggested by Lord Kelvin in 1879. Magnetic resonance, developed in the 1930s by Isidor Rabi, became the practical method for doing this. In 1945, Rabi first publicly suggested that atomic beam magnetic resonance might be used as the basis of a clock. The first atomic clock was an ammonia absorption line device at 23870.1 MHz built in 1949 at the U.S. National Bureau of Standards (NBS, now NIST). It was less accurate than existing quartz clocks, but served to demonstrate the concept. The first accurate atomic clock, a caesium standard based on a certain transition of the caesium-133 atom, was built by Louis Essen and Jack Parry in 1955 at the National Physical Laboratory in the UK. Calibration of the caesium standard atomic clock was carried out by the use of the astronomical time scale ephemeris time (ET). In 1967, this led the scientific community to redefine the Second in terms of a specific atomic frequency. Equality of the ET second with the (atomic clock) SI second has been verified to within 1 part in 1010. The SI second thus inherits the effect of decisions by the original designers of the ephemeris time scale, determining the length of the ET second.
Since the beginning of development in the 1950s, atomic clocks have been based on the hyperfine transitions in hydrogen-1, caesium-133, and rubidium-87. The first commercial atomic clock was the Atomichron, manufactured by the National Company. More than 50 were sold between 1956 and 1960. This bulky and expensive instrument was subsequently replaced by much smaller rack-mountable devices, such as the Hewlett-Packard model 5060 caesium frequency standard, released in 1964.
In the late 1990s four factors contributed to major advances in clocks:
In August 2004, NIST scientists demonstrated a chip-scale atomic clock. According to the researchers, the clock was believed to be one-hundredth the size of any other. It requires no more than 125 mW, making it suitable for battery-driven applications. This technology became available commercially in 2011. Ion trap experimental optical clocks are more precise than the current caesium standard.
In April 2015, NASA announced that it planned to deploy a Deep Space Atomic Clock (DSAC), a miniaturized, ultra-precise mercury-ion atomic clock, into outer space. NASA said that the DSAC would be much more stable than other navigational clocks.
Since 1967, the International System of Units (SI) has defined the second as the duration of 9192631770 cycles of radiation corresponding to the transition between two energy levels of the ground state of the caesium-133 atom. In 1997, the International Committee for Weights and Measures (CIPM) added that the preceding definition refers to a caesium atom at rest at a temperature of absolute zero.
This definition makes the caesium oscillator the primary standard for time and frequency measurements, called the caesium standard. The definitions of other physical units, e.g., the volt and the metre, rely on the definition of the second.
The actual time-reference of an atomic clock consists of an electronic oscillator operating at microwave frequency. The oscillator is arranged so that its frequency-determining components include an element that can be controlled by a feedback signal. The feedback signal keeps the oscillator tuned in resonance with the frequency of the electronic transition of caesium or rubidium.
The core of the atomic clock is a tunable microwave cavity containing a gas. In a hydrogen maser clock the gas emits microwaves (the gas mases) on a hyperfine transition, the field in the cavity oscillates, and the cavity is tuned for maximum microwave amplitude. Alternatively, in a caesium or rubidium clock, the beam or gas absorbs microwaves and the cavity contains an electronic amplifier to make it oscillate. For both types the atoms in the gas are prepared in one electronic state prior to filling them into the cavity. For the second type the number of atoms which change electronic state is detected and the cavity is tuned for a maximum of detected state changes.
Most of the complexity of the clock lies in this adjustment process. The adjustment tries to correct for unwanted side-effects, such as frequencies from other electron transitions, temperature changes, and the spreading in frequencies caused by ensemble effects. One way of doing this is to sweep the microwave oscillator's frequency across a narrow range to generate a modulated signal at the detector. The detector's signal can then be demodulated to apply feedback to control long-term drift in the radio frequency. In this way, the quantum-mechanical properties of the atomic transition frequency of the caesium can be used to tune the microwave oscillator to the same frequency, except for a small amount of experimental error. When a clock is first turned on, it takes a while for the oscillator to stabilize. In practice, the feedback and monitoring mechanism is much more complex.
A number of other atomic clock schemes are in use for other purposes. Rubidium standard clocks are prized for their low cost, small size (commercial standards are as small as 17 cm3) and short-term stability. They are used in many commercial, portable and aerospace applications. Hydrogen masers (often manufactured in Russia) have superior short-term stability compared to other standards, but lower long-term accuracy.
Often, one standard is used to fix another. For example, some commercial applications use a rubidium standard periodically corrected by a global positioning system receiver (see GPS disciplined oscillator). This achieves excellent short-term accuracy, with long-term accuracy equal to (and traceable to) the U.S. national time standards.
The lifetime of a standard is an important practical issue. Modern rubidium standard tubes last more than ten years, and can cost as little as US$50. Caesium reference tubes suitable for national standards currently last about seven years and cost about US$35,000. The long-term stability of hydrogen maser standards decreases because of changes in the cavity's properties over time.
Modern clocks use magneto-optical traps to cool the atoms for improved precision.
The power consumption of atomic clocks varies with their size. Atomic clocks on the scale of one chip require less than 30 milliwatt; Primary frequency and time standards like the United States Time Standard atomic clocks, NIST-F1 and NIST-F2, use far higher power.
The evaluated accuracy uB reports of various primary frequency and time standards are published online by the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM). Several frequency and time standards groups as of 2015 reported uB values in the 2 × 10−16 to 3 × 10−16 range.
In 2011, the NPL-CsF2 caesium fountain clock operated by the National Physical Laboratory (NPL), which serves as the United Kingdom primary frequency and time standard, was improved regarding the two largest sources of measurement uncertainties — distributed cavity phase and microwave lensing frequency shifts. In 2011 this resulted in an evaluated frequency uncertainty reduction from uB = 4.1 × 10−16 to uB = 2.3 × 10−16;— the lowest value for any primary national standard at the time. At this frequency uncertainty, the NPL-CsF2 is expected to neither gain nor lose a second in about 138 million (138 × 106) years.
The NIST-F2 caesium fountain clock operated by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), was officially launched in April 2014, to serve as a new U.S. civilian frequency and time standard, along with the NIST-F1 standard. The planned uB performance level of NIST-F2 is 1 × 10−16. "At this planned performance level the NIST-F2 clock will not lose a second in at least 300 million years." NIST-F2 was designed using lessons learned from NIST-F1. The NIST-F2 key advance compared to the NIST-F1 is that the vertical flight tube is now chilled inside a container of liquid nitrogen, at −193 °C (−315.4 °F). This cycled cooling dramatically lowers the background radiation and thus reduces some of the very small measurement errors that must be corrected in NIST-F1.
The first in-house accuracy evaluation of NIST-F2 reported a uB of 1.1 × 10−16. However, a published scientific criticism of that NIST F-2 accuracy evaluation described problems in its treatment of distributed cavity phase shifts and the microwave lensing frequency shift, which is treated significantly differently than in the majority of accurate fountain clock evaluations. The next NIST-F2 submission to the BIPM in March, 2015 again reported a uB of 1.5 × 10−16, but did not address the standing criticism. There have been neither subsequent reports to the BIPM from NIST-F2 nor has an updated accuracy evaluation been published.
At the request of the Italian standards organization, NIST fabricated many duplicate components for a second version of NIST-F2, known as IT-CsF2 to be operated by the Istituto Nazionale di Ricerca Metrologica (INRiM), NIST's counterpart in Turin, Italy. As of February 2016 the IT-CsF2 caesium fountain clock started reporting a uB of 1.7 × 10−16 in the BIPM reports of evaluation of primary frequency standards.
Most research focuses on the often conflicting goals of making the clocks smaller, cheaper, more portable, more energy efficient, more accurate, more stable and more reliable. The Atomic Clock Ensemble in Space is an example of clock research.
A list of frequencies recommended for secondary representations of the second is maintained by the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM) since 2006 and is available online. The list contains the frequency values and the respective standard uncertainties for the rubidium microwave transition and for several optical transitions. These secondary frequency standards are accurate at the level of parts in 10−18; however, the uncertainties provided in the list are in the range of parts in 10−14 – 10−15 since they are limited by the linking to the caesium primary standard that currently (2015) defines the second.
|relative Allan deviation|
|133Cs||9 192 631 770||by definition||10−13|
|87Rb||6 834 682 610||.904 324||10−12|
|1H||1 420 405 751||.7667||10−15|
|Optical clock (87Sr)||429 228 004 229 873||.4||10−17|
For context, a femtosecond (1×10−15 s) is to a second what a second is to about 31.71 million (31.71×106) years and an attosecond (1×10−18 s) is to a second what a second is to about 31.71 billion (31.71×109) years.
21st century experimental atomic clocks that provide non-caesium-based secondary representations of the second are becoming so precise that they are likely to be used as extremely sensitive detectors for other things besides measuring frequency and time. For example, the frequency of atomic clocks is altered slightly by gravity, magnetic fields, electrical fields, force, motion, temperature and other phenomena. The experimental clocks tend to continue improving, and leadership in performance has been shifted back and forth between various types of experimental clocks.
In March 2008, physicists at NIST described a quantum logic clock based on individual ions of beryllium and aluminium. This clock was compared to NIST's mercury ion clock. These were the most accurate clocks that had been constructed, with neither clock gaining nor losing time at a rate that would exceed a second in over a billion years. In February 2010, NIST physicists described a second, enhanced version of the quantum logic clock based on individual ions of magnesium and aluminium. Considered the world's most precise clock in 2010 with a fractional frequency inaccuracy of 8.6 × 10−18, it offers more than twice the precision of the original. 
The theoretical move from microwaves as the atomic "escapement" for clocks to light in the optical range (harder to measure but offering better performance) earned John L. Hall and Theodor W. Hänsch the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2005. One of 2012's Physics Nobelists, David J. Wineland, is a pioneer in exploiting the properties of a single ion held in a trap to develop clocks of the highest stability.
New technologies, such as femtosecond frequency combs, optical lattices, and quantum information, have enabled prototypes of next-generation atomic clocks. These clocks are based on optical rather than microwave transitions. A major obstacle to developing an optical clock is the difficulty of directly measuring optical frequencies. This problem has been solved with the development of self-referenced mode-locked lasers, commonly referred to as femtosecond frequency combs. Before the demonstration of the frequency comb in 2000, terahertz techniques were needed to bridge the gap between radio and optical frequencies, and the systems for doing so were cumbersome and complicated. With the refinement of the frequency comb, these measurements have become much more accessible and numerous optical clock systems are now being developed around the world.
As in the radio range, absorption spectroscopy is used to stabilize an oscillator—in this case a laser. When the optical frequency is divided down into a countable radio frequency using a femtosecond comb, the bandwidth of the phase noise is also divided by that factor. Although the bandwidth of laser phase noise is generally greater than stable microwave sources, after division it is less.
The primary systems under consideration for use in optical frequency standards are:
These techniques allow the atoms or ions to be highly isolated from external perturbations, thus producing an extremely stable frequency reference.
The rare-earth element ytterbium (Yb) is valued not so much for its mechanical properties but for its complement of internal energy levels. "A particular transition in Yb atoms, at a wavelength of 578 nm, currently provides one of the world's most accurate optical atomic frequency standards," said Marianna Safronova. The estimated amount of uncertainty achieved corresponds to a Yb clock uncertainty of about one second over the lifetime of the universe so far, 15 billion years, according to scientists at the Joint Quantum Institute (JQI) and the University of Delaware in December 2012.
In 2013 optical lattice clocks (OLCs) were shown to be as good as or better than caesium fountain clocks. Two optical lattice clocks containing about 10 000 atoms of strontium-87 were able to stay in synchrony with each other at a precision of at least 1.5 × 10−16, which is as accurate as the experiment could measure. These clocks have been shown to keep pace with all three of the caesium fountain clocks at the Paris Observatory. There are two reasons for the possibly better precision. Firstly, the frequency is measured using light, which has a much higher frequency than microwaves, and secondly, by using many atoms, any errors are averaged. Using ytterbium-171 atoms, a new record for stability with a precision of 1.6×10−18 over a 7-hour period was published on 22 August 2013. At this stability, the two optical lattice clocks working independently from each other used by the NIST research team would differ less than a second over the age of the universe (13.8×109 years); this was 10 times better than previous experiments. The clocks rely on 10 000 ytterbium atoms cooled to 10 microkelvin and trapped in an optical lattice. A laser at 578 nm excites the atoms between two of their energy levels. Having established the stability of the clocks, the researchers are studying external influences and evaluating the remaining systematic uncertainties, in the hope that they can bring the clock's accuracy down to the level of its stability. An improved optical lattice clock was described in a 2014 Nature paper. In 2015 JILA evaluated the absolute frequency uncertainty of a strontium-87 optical lattice clock at 2.1 × 10−18, which corresponds to a measurable gravitational time dilation for an elevation change of 2 cm (0.79 in) on planet Earth that according to JILA/NIST Fellow Jun Ye is "getting really close to being useful for relativistic geodesy". At this frequency uncertainty, this JILA optical lattice clock is expected to neither gain nor lose a second in more than 15 billion (15 × 109) years.
In 2017 JILA reported an experimental 3D quantum gas strontium optical lattice clock in which strontium-87 atoms are packed into a tiny three-dimensional (3-D) cube at 1,000 times the density of previous one-dimensional (1-D) clocks, like the 2015 JILA clock. A synchronous clock comparison between two regions of the 3D lattice yielded a record level of synchronization of 5 × 10−19 in 1 hour of averaging time. The 3D quantum gas strontium optical lattice clock’s centerpiece is an unusual state of matter called a degenerate Fermi gas (a quantum gas for Fermi particles). The experimental data shows the 3D quantum gas clock achieved a precision of 3.5 × 10−19 in about two hours. According to Jun Ye "This represents a significant improvement over any previous demonstrations." Ye further commented "The most important potential of the 3D quantum gas clock is the ability to scale up the atom numbers, which will lead to a huge gain in stability." and "The ability to scale up both the atom number and coherence time will make this new-generation clock qualitatively different from the previous generation." In 2018 JILA reported the 3D quantum gas clock reached a frequency precision of 2.5 × 10−19 over 6 hours. At this frequency uncertainty, this 3D quantum gas clock would lose or gain about 0.1 seconds over the age of the universe.
Optical clocks are currently (2018) still primarily research projects, less mature than rubidium and caesium microwave standards, which regularly deliver time to the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM) for establishing International Atomic Time (TAI). As the optical experimental clocks move beyond their microwave counterparts in terms of accuracy and stability performance this puts them in a position to replace the current standard for time, the caesium fountain clock. In the future this might lead to redefine the caesium microwave based SI second and other new dissemination techniques at the highest level of accuracy to transfer clock signals will be required that can be used in both shorter-range and longer-range (frequency) comparisons between better clocks and to explore their fundamental limitations without significantly compromising their performance.
In June 2015, the European National Physical Laboratory (NPL) in Teddington, UK; the French department of Time-Space Reference Systems at the Paris Observatory (LNE-SYRTE); the German German National Metrology Institute (PTB) in Braunschweig; and Italy’s Istituto Nazionale di Ricerca Metrologica (INRiM) in Turin labs have started tests to improve the accuracy of current state-of-the-art satellite comparisons by a factor 10, but it will still be limited to one part in 1 × 10−16. These 4 European labs are developing and host a variety of experimental optical clocks that harness different elements in different experimental set-ups and want to compare their optical clocks against each other and check whether they agree. In a next phase these labs strive to transmit comparison signals in the visible spectrum through fibre-optic cables. This will allow their experimental optical clocks to be compared with an accuracy similar to the expected accuracies of the optical clocks themselves. Some of these labs have already established fibre-optic links, and tests have begun on sections between Paris and Teddington, and Paris and Braunschweig. Fibre-optic links between experimental optical clocks also exist between the American NIST lab and its partner lab JILA, both in Boulder, Colorado but these span much shorter distances than the European network and are between just two labs. According to Fritz Riehle, a physicist at PTB, "Europe is in a unique position as it has a high density of the best clocks in the world". In August 2016 the French LNE-SYRTE in Paris and German PTB in Braunschweig reported the comparison and agreement of two fully independent experimental strontium lattice optical clocks in Paris and Braunschweig at an uncertainty of 5 × 10−17 via a newly established phase-coherent frequency link connecting Paris and Braunschweig, using 1,415 km (879 mi) of telecom fibre-optic cable. The fractional uncertainty of the whole link was assessed to be 2.5 × 10−19, making comparisons of even more accurate clocks possible.
The development of atomic clocks has led to many scientific and technological advances such as a system of precise global and regional navigation satellite systems, and applications in the Internet, which depend critically on frequency and time standards. Atomic clocks are installed at sites of time signal radio transmitters. They are used at some long wave and medium wave broadcasting stations to deliver a very precise carrier frequency. Atomic clocks are used in many scientific disciplines, such as for long-baseline interferometry in radioastronomy.
The Global Positioning System (GPS) operated by the US Air Force Space Command provides very accurate timing and frequency signals. A GPS receiver works by measuring the relative time delay of signals from a minimum of four, but usually more, GPS satellites, each of which has at least two onboard caesium and as many as two rubidium atomic clocks. The relative times are mathematically transformed into three absolute spatial coordinates and one absolute time coordinate. GPS Time (GPST) is a continuous time scale and theoretically accurate to about 14 ns. However, most receivers lose accuracy in the interpretation of the signals and are only accurate to 100 ns. The GPST is related to but differs from TAI (International Atomic Time) and UTC (Coordinated Universal Time). GPST remains at a constant offset with TAI (TAI – GPST = 19 seconds) and like TAI does not implement leap seconds. Periodic corrections are performed to the on-board clocks in the satellites to keep them synchronized with ground clocks. The GPS navigation message includes the difference between GPST and UTC. As of July 2015, GPST is 17 seconds ahead of UTC because of the leap second added to UTC on 30 June 2015. Receivers subtract this offset from GPS Time to calculate UTC and specific timezone values.
The GLObal NAvigation Satellite System (GLONASS) operated by the Russian Aerospace Defence Forces provides an alternative to the Global Positioning System (GPS) system and is the second navigational system in operation with global coverage and of comparable precision. GLONASS Time (GLONASST) is generated by the GLONASS Central Synchroniser and is typically better than 1,000 ns. Unlike GPS, the GLONASS time scale implements leap seconds, like UTC.
The Galileo Global Navigation Satellite System is operated by the European GNSS Agency and European Space Agency and nearing to achieve its full operating capacity global coverage constellation goal. Galileo started offering global Early Operational Capability (EOC) on 15 December 2016, providing the third and first non-military operated Global Navigation Satellite System, and is expected to reach Full Operational Capability (FOC) in 2019. To achieve Galileo's FOC coverage constellation goal 6 planned extra satellites need to be added. Galileo System Time (GST) is a continuous time scale which is generated on the ground at the Galileo Control Centre in Fucino, Italy, by the Precise Timing Facility, based on averages of different atomic clocks and maintained by the Galileo Central Segment and synchronised with TAI with a nominal offset below 50 ns. According to the European GNSS Agency Galileo offers 30 ns timing accuracy. The March 2018 Quarterly Performance Report by the European GNSS Service Centre reported the UTC Time Dissemination Service Accuracy was ≤ 7.6 ns, computed by accumulating samples over the previous 12 months and exceeding the ≤ 30 ns target. Each Galileo satellite has two passive hydrogen maser and two rubidium atomic clocks for onboard timing. The Galileo navigation message includes the differences between GST, UTC and GPST (to promote interoperability).
The BeiDou-2/BeiDou-3 satellite navigation system is operated by the China National Space Administration and nearing to achieve its full-scale global coverage constellation goal. BeiDou Time (BDT) is a continuous time scale starting at 1 January 2006 at 0:00:00 UTC and is synchronised with UTC within 100 ns. BeiDou became operational in China in December 2011, with 10 satellites in use, and began offering services to customers in the Asia-Pacific region in December 2012. On 27 December 2018 the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System started to provide global services with a reported timing accuracy of 20 ns. The BeiDou global navigation system should be finished by 2020.
A radio clock is a clock that automatically synchronizes itself by means of government radio time signals received by a radio receiver. Many retailers market radio clocks inaccurately as atomic clocks; although the radio signals they receive originate from atomic clocks, they are not atomic clocks themselves. Normal low cost consumer grade receivers solely rely on the amplitude-modulated time signals and use narrow band receivers (with 10 Hz bandwidth) with small ferrite loopstick antennas and circuits with non optimal digital signal processing delay and can therefore only be expected to determine the beginning of a second with a practical accuracy uncertainty of ± 0.1 second. This is sufficient for radio controlled low cost consumer grade clocks and watches using standard-quality quartz clocks for timekeeping between daily synchronization attempts, as they will be most accurate immediately after a successful synchronization and will become less accurate from that point forward until the next synchronization. Instrument grade time receivers provide higher accuracy. Such devices incur a transit delay of approximately 1 ms for every 300 kilometres (186 mi) of distance from the radio transmitter. Many governments operate transmitters for time-keeping purposes.
Atomic Clock is a studio album by Zion I, American hip hop duo consisting of Zumbi and Amp Live. It was released on Gold Dust Media in 2010.Atomic Clock Ensemble in Space
Atomic Clock Ensemble in Space (ACES) is a project led by the European Space Agency which will place ultra-stable atomic clocks on the International Space Station. Operation in the microgravity environment of the ISS will provide a stable and accurate time base for different areas of research, including general relativity and string theory tests, time and frequency metrology, and very long baseline interferometry.
The payload actually contains two clocks: a caesium laser cooled atomic clock (PHARAO) developed by CNES, France for long-term stability and an active hydrogen maser (SHM) developed by Spectratime, Switzerland for short-term stability.
The onboard frequency comparison between PHARAO and SHM will be a key element for the evaluation of the accuracy and the short/medium-term stability of the PHARAO clock. Further, it will allow to identify the optimal operating conditions for PHARAO and to select a compromise between frequency accuracy and stability.
The mission will also be a test-bed for the space qualification of the active hydrogen maser SHM. After optimisation performances in the 2 × 10−16 range for both frequency instability and inaccuracy are intended. This corresponds to a time error of about 1 second over 300 million (300 × 106) years.
The clock ensemble is expected to travel to the space station aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 in 2020. The ACES module will be externally mounted to the ESA's Columbus Laboratory.
with an 18-30 month expected operations phase.Atomichron
The Atomichron was the world's first commercial atomic clock, built by the National Company, Inc of Malden, Massachusetts. It was also the first self-contained portable atomic clock and was a caesium standard clock. More than 50 clocks with the trademarked Atomichron name were produced.Caesium standard
The caesium standard is a primary frequency standard in which electronic transitions between the two hyperfine ground states of caesium-133 atoms are used to control the output frequency. The first caesium clock was built by Louis Essen in 1955 at the National Physical Laboratory in the UK. and promoted worldwide by Gernot M. R. Winkler of the USNO.
Caesium atomic clocks are the most accurate time and frequency standards, and serve as the primary standard for the definition of the second in the International System of Units (SI) (the metric system). By definition, radiation produced by the transition between the two hyperfine ground states of caesium (in the absence of external influences such as the Earth's magnetic field) has a frequency, ΔνCs, of exactly 9192631770 Hz. That value was chosen so that the caesium second equalled, to the limit of human measuring ability in 1960 when it was adopted, the existing standard ephemeris second based on the Earth's orbit around the Sun. Because no other measurement involving time had been as precise, the effect of the change was less than the experimental uncertainty of all existing measurements.Chip-scale atomic clock
A chip scale atomic clock (CSAC) is a compact, low-power atomic clock fabricated using techniques of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) and incorporating a low-power semiconductor laser as the light source. The first CSAC physics package was demonstrated at NIST in 2003 , based on an invention made in 2001 . The work was funded by the US Department of Defense's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) with the goal of developing a microchip-sized atomic clock for use in portable equipment. In military equipment it is expected to provide improved location and battlespace situational awareness for dismounted soldiers when the global positioning system is not available, but many civilian applications are also envisioned. Commercial manufacturing of these atomic clocks began in 2011. The world's smallest atomic clock is 4 x 3.5 x 1 cm (1.5 x 1.4 x 0.4 inches) in size, weighs 35 grams, consumes only 115 mW of power, and can keep time to within 100 microseconds per day after several years of operation.Deep Space Atomic Clock
The Deep Space Atomic Clock (DSAC) is a miniaturized, ultra-precise mercury-ion atomic clock for precise radio navigation in deep space. It is orders of magnitude more stable than existing navigation clocks, and has been refined to limit drift of no more than 1 nanosecond in 10 days. It is expected that a DSAC would incur no more than 1 microsecond of error in 10 years of operations. It is expected to improve the precision of deep space navigation, and enable more efficient use of tracking networks. The project is managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and it will be deployed as part of the U.S. Air Force's Space Test Program 2 (STP-2) mission aboard a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket in March 2019.France Inter
France Inter is a major French public radio channel and part of Radio France. It is a "generalist" station, aiming to provide a wide national audience with a full service of news and spoken-word programming, both serious and entertaining, liberally punctuated with an eclectic mix of music.
France Inter broadcasts on FM transmitters across France, and via the internet.
The radio channel France Inter announced during 2016 that the channel would discontinue transmitting on the 162 kHz frequency on the longwave on 1 January 2017, seeking cost savings of approximately €6 million per year. The transmission of the atomic clock generated time signal from Allouis will be continued after this date on the 162 kHz frequency as this time signal is critical for over 200,000 devices, which are deployed within French enterprises and state entities, like the French railways SNCF, the electricity distributor ENEDIS, airports, hospitals, municipalities, et cetera.G-Shock
G-Shock is a line of watches manufactured by Casio, designed to resist mechanical shock and vibration. Its full form is Gravitational Shock. They are designed primarily for sports, military and outdoors-oriented activities; nearly all G-shocks are digital or a combination of analog and digital and have a stopwatch feature, countdown timer, electroluminescent backlight and water resistance.Gene Hoglan
Eugene Victor Hoglan II (born August 31, 1967, in Dallas, Texas) is an American drummer, acclaimed for his creativity in drum arrangements, including use of abstract devices for percussion effects and his trademark lengthy double-kick drum rhythms. His highly technical playing is extremely accurate at very high and challenging tempos, earning him the nicknames "The Atomic Clock" and "Human Drum Machine."
He is best known for his work with Dark Angel, Death, Strapping Young Lad, Devin Townsend, Fear Factory, Dethklok and Testament. Hoglan completed work on Dethklok's fourth album The Doomstar Requiem, which was released in October 2013. He released the highly successful Gene Hoglan: The Atomic Clock DVD, and rejoined Testament to record the drum tracks for their tenth album, Dark Roots of Earth, released in July 2012.
Hoglan was featured on the cover of Modern Drummer magazine November 2010. He also won Terrorizer magazine's Reader's Poll for Best Drummer 2010, and Modern Drummer magazine nominated Hoglan for Best Metal Drummer, and Best Recorded Performance (for Dethklok's Dethalbum II) on their 2011 ballot. He was nominated for Best Drummer in Revolver magazine's 2010 Reader's Poll.JJY
JJY is the call sign of a low frequency time signal radio station located in Japan.
The station broadcasts from two sites, one on Mount Otakadoya, near Fukushima, and the other on Mount Hagane, located on Kyushu Island. JJY is operated by the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT), an independent administrative institution affiliated with the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications of the Japanese government.NIST-7
NIST-7 was the atomic clock used by the United States from 1993 to 1999. It was one of a series of Atomic Clocks at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The caesium beam clock served as the nation's primary time and frequency standard during that time period, but it has since been replaced with the more accurate NIST-F1, a caesium fountain atomic clock that neither gains nor loses one second in 100 million years.NIST-F1
NIST-F1 is a cesium fountain clock, a type of atomic clock, in the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Boulder, Colorado, and serves as the United States' primary time and frequency standard. The clock took less than four years to test and build, and was developed by Steve Jefferts and Dawn Meekhof of the Time and Frequency Division of NIST's Physical Measurement Laboratory.The clock replaced NIST-7, a cesium beam atomic clock used from 1993 to 1999. NIST-F1 is ten times more accurate than NIST-7. It has been succeeded by a new standard, NIST-F2, announced in April 2014. The NIST-F2 standard aims to be about three times more accurate than the NIST-F1 standard, and there are plans to operate it simultaneously with the NIST-F1 clock. The most recent contribution of NIST-F1 to BIPM TAI was in March 2016.Quantum clock
A quantum clock is a type of atomic clock with laser cooled single ions confined together in an electromagnetic ion trap. Developed in 2010 by National Institute of Standards and Technology physicists, the clock was 37 times more precise than the then-existing international standard. The quantum logic clock is based on an aluminium spectroscopy ion with a logic atom.
Both the aluminium-based quantum clock and the mercury-based optical atomic clock track time by the ion vibration at an optical frequency using a UV laser, that is 100,000 times higher than the microwave frequencies used in NIST-F1 and other similar time standards around the world. Quantum clocks like this are able to be far more precise than microwave standards.Rubidium standard
A rubidium standard or rubidium atomic clock is a frequency standard in which a specified hyperfine transition of electrons in rubidium-87 atoms is used to control the output frequency. It is the most inexpensive, compact, and widely produced atomic clock, used to control the frequency of television stations, cell phone base stations, in test equipment, and global navigation satellite systems like GPS. Commercial rubidium clocks are less accurate than caesium atomic clocks, which serve as primary frequency standards, so the rubidium clock is a secondary frequency standard. However, rubidium fountains are currently being developed that are even more stable than caesium fountain clocks.All commercial rubidium frequency standards operate by disciplining a crystal oscillator to the rubidium hyperfine transition of 6834682610.904 Hz. The intensity of light from a rubidium discharge lamp that reaches a photodetector through a resonance cell will drop by about 0.1% when the rubidium vapor in the resonance cell is exposed to microwave power near the transition frequency. The crystal oscillator is stabilized to the rubidium transition by detecting the light dip while sweeping an RF synthesizer (referenced to the crystal) through the transition frequency.Second
The second is the base unit of time in the International System of Units (SI), commonly understood and historically defined as 1⁄86400 of a day – this factor derived from the division of the day first into 24 hours, then to 60 minutes and finally to 60 seconds each. Analog clocks and watches often have sixty tick marks on their faces, representing seconds, and a "second hand" to mark the passage of time in seconds. Digital clocks and watches often have a two-digit seconds counter. The second is also part of several other units of measurement like meters per second for velocity, meters per second per second for acceleration, and per second for frequency.
Although the historical definition of the unit was based on this division of the Earth's rotation cycle, the formal definition in the International System of Units (SI) is a much steadier timekeeper: 1 second is defined to be exactly "the duration of 9,192,631,770 periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition between the two hyperfine levels of the ground state of the caesium-133 atom" (at a temperature of 0 K).
Because the Earth's rotation varies and is also slowing ever so slightly, a leap second is periodically added to clock time to keep clocks in sync with Earth's rotation.
Multiples of seconds are usually counted in hours and minutes. Fractions of a second are usually counted in tenths or hundredths. In scientific work, small fractions of a second are counted in milliseconds (thousandths), microseconds (millionths), nanoseconds (billionths), and sometimes smaller units of a second.
An everyday experience with small fractions of a second is a 1-gigahertz microprocessor which has a cycle time of 1 nanosecond. Camera shutter speeds usually range from 1⁄60 second to 1⁄250 second.
Sexagesimal divisions of the day from a calendar based on astronomical observation have existed since the third millennium BC, though they were not seconds as we know them today. Small divisions of time could not be counted back then, so such divisions were figurative. The first timekeepers that could count seconds accurately were pendulum clocks invented in the 17th century. Starting in the 1950s, atomic clocks became better timekeepers than earth's rotation, and they continue to set the standard today.TDF time signal
TéléDiffusion de France broadcast the TDF time signal, controlled by LNE–SYRTE, from the Allouis longwave transmitter at 162 kHz, with a power of 2 MW.It was also known as FI or France Inter because the signal was formerly best known for broadcasting the France Inter AM signal. This signal ceased at the end of 2016, but the transmitter remains in use for its time signal and other digital signals.
In 1980, the first atomic clock was installed to regulate the carrier frequency. The current time signal is generated by an extremely accurate caesium fountain atomic clock and phase-modulated on the 162 kHz carrier in a way that is inaudible when listening to the France Inter signal using a normal AM receivers. It requires a more complex receiver than the popular DCF77 service, but the much more powerful transmitter (22 to 40 times DCF77's 50 kW) gives it a much greater range of 3,500 km.
The signal is almost continuous but there is a regularly scheduled interruption for maintenance every Tuesday. This used to be from 01:03 to 05:00, but with the cessation of audio signals, it has been moved to 08:00 to 12:00.The signal was formerly 2,000 kW, but has been reduced to 1,500 kW, and tests are in progress of a further reduction to 1,100 kW for cost savings.The Earlies
The Earlies are a band formed by Christian Madden and Giles Hatton from Lancashire, England, and Brandon Carr and John Mark Lapham from the United States. They are notable for blending elements from a wide range of musical genres and have been described as both "a very English kind of folk-psychedelia... with a smattering of Beach Boys harmonies" by The Independent, and "country-meets-prog-meets-electronica symphonies" by The Guardian.In the late 1990s, prior to his Earlies days, Lapham released ambient electronic music, under the name Autio, on Manchester record label Beatnik Records. Hatton recorded as Atomic Clock for the same label.
The band are notable for using a large live line-up consisting of 11 members who play an eclectic range of instruments, including flute, tuba, cello, turntable and synthesizer, alongside the more traditional rock instruments. The full line-up of the band last played live headlining the Green Man Festival in 2007.Carr went took an indefinite break from the band to teach at ATEMS High School in Abilene, Texas.
In 2015, after a long hiatus, The Earlies returned with new material and scheduled live appearances. The band will be performing a one-off festival show at the fifth Cloudspotting Festival in England, followed by a short tour of the UK in the last week of July. A new EP, Message from Home, is also expected in 2015.The Earlies played and produced parts of Jinnwoo's debut album, 'Strangers Bring Me No Light', released September 2016.Time standard
A time standard is a specification for measuring time: either the rate at which time passes; or points in time; or both. In modern times, several time specifications have been officially recognized as standards, where formerly they were matters of custom and practice. An example of a kind of time standard can be a time scale, specifying a method for measuring divisions of time. A standard for civil time can specify both time intervals and time-of-day.
Standardized time measurements are made using a clock to count periods of some period changes, which may be either the changes of a natural phenomenon or of an artificial machine.
Historically, time standards were often based on the Earth's rotational period. From the late 18 century to the 19th century it was assumed that the Earth's daily rotational rate was constant. Astronomical observations of several kinds, including eclipse records, studied in the 19th century, raised suspicions that the rate at which Earth rotates is gradually slowing and also shows small-scale irregularities, and this was confirmed in the early twentieth century. Time standards based on Earth rotation were replaced (or initially supplemented) for astronomical use from 1952 onwards by an ephemeris time standard based on the Earth's orbital period and in practice on the motion of the Moon. The invention in 1955 of the caesium atomic clock has led to the replacement of older and purely astronomical time standards, for most practical purposes, by newer time standards based wholly or partly on atomic time.
Various types of second and day are used as the basic time interval for most time scales. Other intervals of time (minutes, hours, and years) are usually defined in terms of these two.Very-long-baseline interferometry
Very-long-baseline interferometry (VLBI) is a type of astronomical interferometry used in radio astronomy. In VLBI a signal from an astronomical radio source, such as a quasar, is collected at multiple radio telescopes on Earth. The distance between the radio telescopes is then calculated using the time difference between the arrivals of the radio signal at different telescopes. This allows observations of an object that are made simultaneously by many radio telescopes to be combined, emulating a telescope with a size equal to the maximum separation between the telescopes.
Data received at each antenna in the array include arrival times from a local atomic clock, such as a hydrogen maser. At a later time, the data are correlated with data from other antennas that recorded the same radio signal, to produce the resulting image. The resolution achievable using interferometry is proportional to the observing frequency. The VLBI technique enables the distance between telescopes to be much greater than that possible with conventional interferometry, which requires antennas to be physically connected by coaxial cable, waveguide, optical fiber, or other type of transmission line. The greater telescope separations are possible in VLBI due to the development of the closure phase imaging technique by Roger Jennison in the 1950s, allowing VLBI to produce images with superior resolution.VLBI is best known for imaging distant cosmic radio sources, spacecraft tracking, and for applications in astrometry. However, since the VLBI technique measures the time differences between the arrival of radio waves at separate antennas, it can also be used "in reverse" to perform earth rotation studies, map movements of tectonic plates very precisely (within millimetres), and perform other types of geodesy. Using VLBI in this manner requires large numbers of time difference measurements from distant sources (such as quasars) observed with a global network of antennas over a period of time.
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and use of time
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