Navy Research Contracts Vescent to Develop Portable Atomic Clocks

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GOLDEN, Colo., Dec. 21, 2021 — Vescent Photonics signed a $16.2 million development program with the Office of Navy Research (ONR) in response to an ONR Broad Area Announcement. Under the three-phase, five-year Compact Rubidium Optical Clock (CROC) Program, Vescent will design, build, and deliver a new generation of atomic clocks with improved performance that are ready for field deployment at a high technology readiness level (TRL).

The Vescent contract began last month and will continue through 2026.

The final deliverable of the award will be 10 prototype field-deployable optical clocks at or above TRL 6; these clocks exhibit long-term instability of < 3 × 10−14 and offer a greater than 50% reduction in power consumption. The project will improve on existing commercial atomic clocks by interrogating a two-photon optical clock transition in a warm vapor of rubidium atoms to achieve better stability than obtained by probing the conventional microwave clock transition.

In phase one of the program, all critical technology elements will be advanced to TRL 6 and demonstrated in a modular clock. In phase two, engineering and verification efforts will integrate the individual components into prototype clocks. Phase three will focus on manufacturing the 10 final prototype clocks for evaluation by the Office of Naval Research in relevant platforms.

Published: December 2021
optical clock
An optical clock is a highly precise and advanced timekeeping device that relies on the oscillations of electromagnetic radiation in the optical or ultraviolet part of the electromagnetic spectrum. Unlike traditional atomic clocks, which use microwave frequencies, optical clocks operate at much higher frequencies, typically involving transitions in atoms or ions at optical wavelengths. Optical clocks have the potential to provide unprecedented accuracy and stability in timekeeping. Key points...
With reference to electromagnetic radiation, the number of crests of waves that pass a fixed point in a given unit of time, in light or other wave motion. Expressed in hertz or cycles per second.
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