JILA team demonstrates model system for distribution of more accurate time signals

phys.org | 11/16/2017 | Staff
leeann77 (Posted by) Level 3
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JILA physicists and collaborators have demonstrated the first next-generation "time scale"—a system that incorporates data from multiple atomic clocks to produce a single highly accurate timekeeping signal for distribution. The JILA time scale outperforms the best existing hubs for disseminating official time worldwide and offers the possibility of providing more accurate time to millions of customers such as financial markets and computer and phone networks.

The novel time scale architecture combines a super-reliable, advanced atomic clock with an ultrastable device for storing time signals and is a "blueprint for the upgrade of time scales worldwide," as described in the journal Physical Review Letters.

JILA - National - Institute - Standards - Technology

JILA is jointly operated by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the University of Colorado Boulder.

"I think this new time scale demonstration will be very important for the redefinition of time in the future," said Jun Ye, NIST/JILA fellow and project leader.

Redefinition - International - System - Units - SI

The recent redefinition of the International System of Units (SI) did not update the way time is measured. The standard unit of time, the second, has been based on properties of the cesium atom since 1967. In the coming years, the international scientific community is expected to redefine the second, selecting a new atom as the basis for standard atomic clocks and official timekeeping.

To prepare for this change, researchers need to upgrade systems for distributing time.

NIST - Nation - Time - Scales - Arrays

NIST operates the nation's civilian time scales, arrays of hydrogen masers—microwave versions of lasers—that provide reliable oscillating signals to maintain stable "ticking" for the official U.S. civilian time of day, which is linked to international time (coordinated universal time or UTC). Two atomic clocks based on the cesium standard, called NIST-F1 and NIST-F2, are used to calibrate and ensure the accuracy of the time scales.

Like next-generation atomic clocks, JILA's experimental time scale operates entirely at optical frequencies, which are much...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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