Compact optics for high performance portable atomic timing and quantum sensors


Precision timing is key to all aspects of modern infrastructure, from the national grid, to telecommunications, to financial trading, through to global, national, and individual navigation systems. In most cases this timing is received wirelessly through global navigation satellite systems, commonly known as "sat-nav" or GPS. However, these signals do not have guaranteed security, either through their ownership (the GPS system is run by the US Air Force) or due to the vulnerability of the wireless signal to hacking or jamming. There is an urgent need for a UK source of clocks to protect core infrastructure. Additionally, the development of a step-change in the accuracy and stability of timing and frequency sources will drive new technologies, including faster telecoms and ever more secure communication protocols, precision navigation for autonomous transport networks and earth observation techniques to monitor climate change.This project brings a team of leading UK universities with many decades expertise in atomic physics together with industry leaders specialising in nanofabrication and optical systems engineering to deliver a world leading miniature optical system for atom cooling. This innovative approach will generate a source of ultra-cold strontium atoms suitable to deliver highly accurate time referenced to atomic standards. Ultimately, this technology could be employed in a fully isolated clock that is capable of providing a GNSS-surpassing timing standard at the heart of future autonomous vehicles and critical infrastructure networks.

Lead Participant

Project Cost

Grant Offer

Kelvin Nanotechnology Limited, GLASGOW £151,579 £ 75,790


Wideblue Limited, West of Scotland Science Park £98,412 £ 68,888
University of Strathclyde, United Kingdom £142,958 £ 142,958
University of Birmingham, United Kingdom £106,905 £ 106,905


10 25 50