Time & Frequency Reference
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Director of Business Development & Sales, Quantum Sensors
A high-performance frequency standard based on cold atoms
Thanks to the advances of Quantum Technologies, iXblue provides a turn-key atomic clock delivering an RF reference signal featuring a relative frequency stability at a level of 10-15.
These frequency reference and measurement technique are recognized by the BIPM (Bureau International des Poids et Mesures) as an official secondary frequency standard. The Muclock thus delivers a frequency reference signal that can be used for representation of the definition of the SI second.
Muclock features within a single device unmatched performances in terms of short and long-term frequency stability, as well as accuracy and predictability. It therefore offers a very interesting alternative to usual Hydrogen Maser / Caesium clocks ensembles for the generation of highly stable time scales, among others.
Compact, robust and turn-key system
Originally inspired by the atomic fountains developed at LNE-SYRTE, our product is based on several technological innovations which allow to propose a compact and robust, turn-key and fully automated system. MuClock provides a new solution that brings the performances of cold atom frequency metrology, in a stand-alone, turn-key equipment.
The approach provided by iXblue relies on the laser manipulation of cold atoms and the microwave interrogation of a large atomic cloud, cooled down with laser beams to a temperature of a few μK. This unique atomic medium shows an exceptional stability over time, independent of the external conditions. This technique offers the possibility to perform over months spectroscopy measurements with an exceptionally high signal-to-noise ratio and a remarkable stability.
Key Operational features
Installation: automated (no optical alignment, no mechanical assembly, no pumping required prior to measuring)
Autonomy: Transport and storage for several days without any power supply will not affect measurement capability nor require additional pumping (sealed dropping chamber)
Software: Dedicated and user-friendly data acquisition and system controller software
Automated starting procedure
Automated self-calibration procedures
Remote monitoring and real-time data retrieval
Auxiliary sensors: The physics package of the Muclock houses a pressure gauge, temperature sensors
Providing high-quality data
The Muclock provides an RF micro-wave signal that can be analyzed by processing its Allan Deviation.
Example of typical data provided by the Muclock. Allan Deviation of a 15-day long time series showing a short-term frequency stability of 3.2 10-13 at 1 s and reaching a long-term stability of 10-15.
Key technology: Isotropic Laser Cooling
The general idea behind the system design is to prepare the cold atom cloud inside the microwave cavity and interrogate the atoms at the same place. This is achieved with isotropic laser cooling (ILC). ILC utilizes the refl ections on the inner surface of the microwave cavity to produce a well-controlled laser fi eld for effi cient cooling of the atoms. The preparation of the atomic cloud is quickly followed by its microwave interrogation. This measurement sequence is repeated at a 10-Hz repetition rate.
With this approach, we therefore obtain performances close to atomic fountains with a signifi cant weight and volume reduction and improvement in compactness, ease of use, and robustness to the environment.
High-reliability fibered optical components
The laser system developed by iXblue relies on the use of lasers operating at 1560 nm. This approach therefore gives access to a wide variety of high performance fibered optical components, originally developed for high-bit-rate optical communication systems. Thanks to the technological efforts conducted over the last 20 years by the telecom industry, these components present unique features:
- fibered components: no optical alignment required
- remarkable optical and electrical performances
- compliance with Telcordia qualification procedures (extended temperature range)
- high reliability (lifetime > 50 000 h).
|Frequency stability||1 s ≤ 4.0 10-13
10 s ≤ 9.5 10-14
100 s ≤ 3.0 10-14
1000 s ≤ 9.5 10-15
10000 s ≤ 3.0 10-15
1 day ≤ 2.0 10-15
Flicker floor ≤ 2.0 10-15
(@ 10 days)
|Phase noise||Offset (Hz) 5MHz Output
1 -121 dBc
10 -151 dBc
100 -163 dBc
1,000 -168 dBc
10,000 -176 dBc
100,000 -178 dBc
|Accuracy||≤ 5 10-15
(under metrological evaluation)
MASS & DIMENSIONS
|Number of boxes||1|
|Total mass||135 kg|
|Dimensions||h = 155 cm x w = 55 cm x d = 80 cm|
|Output frequencies||5, 10, 100 MHz|
SYSTEM INTERFACE & CONTROL
|Control system||On-board computer|
|User Interface||Dedicated software|
|OS of the operating computer||Linux|
|Remote Monitoring ?||Yes|
POWER REQUIREMENTS (AC and DC)
|Operating power consumption||< 250 W|
HORACE: A compact cold atom clock for Galileo
Advances in Space Research 47 – March 2011
HORACE (HOrloge à Refroidissement d’Atomes en Cellule = clock based on atoms cooled from vapour cell) is a compact cold caesium atom clock developed in SYRTE at Paris Observatory…Learn more
Contributing to TAI with a secondary representation of the SI second
Metrologia 2014, 51
We report the first contribution to international atomic time (TAI) based on a secondary representation of the SI second. This work is done with the LNE-SYRTE FO2-Rb fountain frequency standard using the 87Rb ground-state hyperfine transition. We describe FO2-Rb and how it is connected to local and international time scales.Learn more
Recommended values of standard frequencies for secondary representations of the definition of the second
The CIPM has charged the CCL-CCTF Frequency Standards Working Group (CCL-CCTF-WGFS) with maintaining this list of recommended values of standard frequencies for applications including the practical realization of the definition of the metre and secondary representations of the definition of the second.Read more