Development of stable RF/Microwave oscillators and atomic clocks for precision timing

Lead Research Organisation: University of York
Department Name: Electronics


Brief description of the context of the research including potential impact:
Timing, jitter and phase noise are critical in modern navigation, communications and advanced electronic systems and it is therefore essential to develop compact highly stable clocks. There has been extensive development in chip scale atomic clocks but there is usually a significant size/performance trade-off. This group is concentrating on the best performance that can be achieved within a volume around the size of half to 1 shoebox.

Aims and objectives and novelty of the research methodology:
The aim of this research project is to develop a new generation of compact low phase noise oscillators and physics packages to offer fully integrated atomic clocks offering the very best low phase noise performance and at the same time the best long-term stability (Allan Deviation).

The key elements are to be researched and enhanced are:
The frequency synthesiser which acts as a flywheel oscillator and includes crystal oscillators, dielectric resonator oscillators, direct digital synthesisers, and phase locked loops.
The physics package which contains: lasers with microwave modulation; vapour cells (Rb and Cs); magnetic shielding and magnetic bias; temperature stabilisation and optoelectronic detection.
Multiple control loops for laser stabilisation, temperature stabilisation and frequency and phase locking electronics.
The work will involve developing all aspects of these clocks and extends this research groups work on oscillators and coherent population trapping.

Alignment to EPSRC's strategies and research areas:
The work fits directly into key EPSRC themes: 'RF and Microwave Devices' and 'Quantum Devices and Components' and will significantly enhance the UK's capability in this area.

Any companies or collaborators involved:
The CASE sponsorship is provided by Leonardo MW Ltd and EPSRC. The UK National Physical Laboratory (NPL) have agreed to help with measurements.
The project will also stimulate collaboration with the UK Quantum Technologies (QT) Hub for Quantum Sensing and Metrology to support the development of commercial quantum sensors with Leonardo and the UK QT Hub for Quantum Communications at the University of York.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/R512151/1 01/10/2017 30/09/2022
1947525 Studentship EP/R512151/1 01/10/2017 30/09/2021 Stuart Kenny