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NIST's second 'quantum logic clock' based on aluminum ion is now world's most precise clock
Date:2/4/2010

-clock comparison, with the lowest measurement uncertainty ever achieved in such an evaluation, according to the paper.

The enhanced logic clock differs from the original version in several ways. Most importantly, it uses a different type of "partner" ion to enable more efficient operations. Aluminum is an exceptionally stable source of clock ticks but its properties are not easily manipulated or detected with lasers. In the new clock, a magnesium ion is used to cool the aluminum and to signal its ticks. The original version of the clock used beryllium, a smaller and lighter ion that is a less efficient match for aluminum.

Clocks have myriad applications. The extreme precision offered by optical clocks is already providing record measurements of possible changes in the fundamental "constants" of nature, a line of inquiry that has important implications for cosmology and tests of the laws of physics, such as Einstein's theories of special and general relativity. Next-generation clocks might lead to new types of gravity sensors for exploring underground natural resources and fundamental studies of the Earth. Other possible applications may include ultra-precise autonomous navigation, such as landing planes by GPS.


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Contact: Laura Ost
laura.ost@nist.gov
303-497-4880
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
Source:Eurekalert  

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NIST's second 'quantum logic clock' based on aluminum ion is now world's most precise clock
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