Metrology is the science of measurement: measuring time, gravity, rotation etc as accurately as possible. Time is currently defined in terms of extremely accurate atomic clocks. In the 1990s atomic clocks were greatly improved by using laser-cooled atoms with temperatures of only 1K above absolute zero, compared to the atoms at hundreds of Kelvin typically used. A recent breakthrough with standard atomic clocks has been the production of a prototype device that is small enough and requires sufficiently low power, that it could conceivably be put in a mobile phone. Laser cooling experiments typically occupy several cubic meters, due to the variety of optics, vacuum components, electronics and lasers required. Working in collaboration with our industry partner, the goal of this project is to make a compact optical setup that will greatly reduce the space required to make laser cooled atoms, so that laser cooled atomic samples can also reach ‘mobile phone’ size, with a corresponding dramatic increase in accessibility while maintaining the improved time and distance resolution of cold atoms.
|Effective start/end date||5/09/11 → 30/09/12|