FEMTO: FEmtosecond Measurement Technology Options

Lead Research Organisation: University of Bath
Department Name: Electronic and Electrical Engineering

Abstract

There are a multitude of both civilian and military applications needing precise timing and timekeeping. There is
considerable interest is so-called chip-scale atomic clocks exploiting quantum effects and having stabilities of the order of
1E-12 for simple thermal atom clocks to 1E-16 in the case of optical lattice clocks. The applications of compact atomic
clocks are vast and include:
1. Autonomous navigation, e.g., automotive, maritime, aviation, personal;
2. Space, e.g., micro satellites;
3. Communications, e.g., cellular systems, telecommunications networks, military radio;
4. Finance, e.g., high-frequency computer based trading, data security
The FEMTO project is a direct response to the challenges outlined in the UK Quantum Technology Landscape 2014
(Pritchard & Till, 2014). The project is the first step towards transforming the new quantum clock technologies from
research laboratory experiments into engineered solutions. The new quantum clock technologies, encompassing thermal
atom, trapped single cold-atom and trapped multiple cold-atom physics are disruptive innovations. Such clocks will create
new markets and applications through both their improved stability and also potential reduction in size, weight, power and
cost.
To reap the benefits of the new quantum science innovation, engineering innovation is now required. The understanding
and behaviour of quantum clock physics has been obtained in the well-defined, benign confines of a laboratory, using
general-purpose equipment. The challenge now is to develop robust physics packages able to withstand the end-user
environment while optimising the electronic systems for performance, power, mass, volume and cost. Recognising the
variety of applications for the new quantum clocks, the approach of FEMTO includes a number of innovations to maintain
flexibility. There will likely not be a single optimum solution for any application; one may wish to have best performance
(highest stability) or best efficiency (lowest power). FEMTO will allow the user to choose. There are no current commercial
clocks with such capabilities.

Planned Impact

Since the research carried out by Bath forms part of an SME-led project, much of the basic research that will be undertaken
has a clear and natural route-to-market. The most immediate beneficiaries of the research in this project are consortium
members, particularly the leading SME. There will likely be downstream economic impact to all parties which in the case of
Bath is likely to be in the form of IP licensing revenues. The development of new sovereign atomic clock technologies in the
UK is likely to lead to the creation of jobs in manufacturing in addition to direct wealth creation.
In the longer term the technology and knowledge developed in this project has the potential for further significant social and
economic impact arising from new applications afforded by the availability of small low-power small-scale atomic clocks
including defence, space, navigation and telecommunications. Engagement with the likely user-community will be ensured
through the collaboration with the consortium members. There is also scope for further academic impact and collaboration
with academic and industry communities engaged in research into nano- and micro-fabrication methods, hollow-core fibre
and quantum optics in general.
This work has the potential to impact all application areas including
1. Autonomous navigation, e.g., automotive, maritime, aviation, personal;
2. Space, e.g., micro satellites;
3. Communications, e.g., cellular systems, telecommunications networks, military radio;
4. Finance, e.g., high-frequency computer based trading, data security.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description We have discovered how to facilitate the use of Quantum 2.0 behaviour in the development of compact atomic clocks. This work has been progressed with follow-on Innovate UK funding.
Exploitation Route Any sector requiring accurate time.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Construction,Electronics,Energy,Environment,Financial Services, and Management Consultancy,Government, Democracy and Justice,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Retail,Security and Diplomacy,Transport

 
Description The work is of commercial interest from several companies requiring high stability clocks. There has been interest from Chronos Technology Limited and DSTL
First Year Of Impact 2016
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Electronics,Security and Diplomacy,Transport
Impact Types Economic

 
Description FEMTO-AAD
Amount £90,000 (GBP)
Organisation Innovate UK 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2016 
End 09/2017
 
Description Chronos 
Organisation Chronos Technologies Limited
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Timing test equipment and advice
Collaborator Contribution IP under license, knowledge transfer
Impact GNSS jamming related products
Start Year 2008