Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Spotlight: A Stability-Boosting Swap for Our Chip-Scale Clock

A tiny chip encased in clear plastic sits on a piece of graph paper.
Credit: M. Hummon/NIST

Stable is the chip-scale clock that uses a different laser, or so says the latest research from NIST physicists. 

Our scientists replaced an old infrared semiconductor laser in their next-generation chip-scale atomic clock with a near-infrared diode laser stabilized by two specialized devices. 

The swap boosted stability by 20 times, making it comparable to the performance of a hydrogen maser — a widely used workhorse for measuring time and frequency. (NIST uses masers to maintain the U.S civilian time standard.) 

Masers can be about as large as a filing cabinet. This alternative, even if industry leaders incorporate a larger, easier-to-use frequency comb into its design, could be about as small as a 2-liter bottle. 

Find out more in the journal article published by the Optical Society.

Follow us on social media for more like this from all across NIST!

Released September 20, 2021, Updated September 28, 2021