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John Kitching (Fed)

John Kitching is a Group Leader and Fellow at the National Institute of Standards and Technology and Lecturer at the University of Colorado, Boulder. His research focusses on the development of compact devices and instruments that combine atomic spectroscopy, silicon micromachining and photonics. He and his group pioneered the development of chip-scale atomic clocks and magnetometers, and have been involved in their application to problems in biomagnetism and nuclear magnetic resonance. He is currently involved in the development of compact, SI-traceable standards of length, time, voltage, current and temperature under the NIST on a Chip program, as well as project to develop compact laser-cooled time and inertial measurement standards. He received his BSc in Physics from McGill University in 1990 and his PhD degree in Applied Physics from the California Institute of Technology in 1995. He served as co-chair of the APS Division of Laser Science Annual Meeting in 2008, and co-chair of the Technical Program Committee of the IEEE International Frequency Control Symposium in 2019.

A full list of publications can be found here.

US Patent 6,806,784 B2, 2004: Miniature frequency standard based on all-optical excitation and a micro-machined containment vessel.


Fellow of the American Physical Society
Federal Laboratories Consortium Award for Excellence in Technology Transfer, 2017
IEEE I. I. Rabi Award, 2016
IEEE Sensors Council Technical Achievement Award, 2015
Department of Commerce Gold Medal, 2014
Rank Prize in Optoelectronics, 2014
CO-LABS Governors Award, 2013
NIST Fellow, 2013-present
Arthur S. Flemming Award, 2008
Jacob Rabinow Applied Research Award, NIST, 2007
Jack Raper Award for Outstanding Technology-Directions, International Solid-State Circuits Conference, 2005
Department of Commerce Silver Medal, 2005.
European Young Scientist Award, presented by the European Frequency and Time Forum, 2005.
Governor General of Canada’s Silver Medal, 1990
Governor General of Canada’s Bronze Medal, 1986

Selected Publications

A microfabricated atomic clock

Svenja A. Knappe, V Shah, Peter D. Schwindt, Leo W. Hollberg, John E. Kitching, Li-Anne Liew, John Moreland

Chip-scale atomic magnetometer

P Schwindt, Svenja A. Knappe, V Shah, Leo W. Hollberg, John Kitching, Li-Anne Liew, John Moreland
Using the techniques of micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS), we have constructed a small, low-power magnetic sensor based on alkali atoms. By measuring the

Microfabricated alkali atom vapor cells

Li-Anne Liew, Svenja A. Knappe, John M. Moreland, Hugh Robinson, David C. Larbalestier, John Kitching
We describe the fabrication of chip-sized alkali atom vapor cells using silicon micromachining and anodic bonding technology. Such cells may find use in highly

Chip Scale Atomic Devices

John E. Kitching
Chip-scale atomic devices combine elements of precision atomic spectroscopy, silicon micromachining and advanced diode laser technology to create compact, low

NIST on a Chip: Realizing SI units with microfabricated alkali vapour cells

John E. Kitching, Elizabeth A. Donley, Svenja A. Knappe, Matthew T. Hummon, Argyrios Dellis, Jeffrey A. Sherman, Kartik A. Srinivasan, Vladimir A. Aksyuk, Qiliang Li, Daron A. Westly, Brian J. Roxworthy, Amit Lal
We describe several ways in which microfabricated alkali atom vapour cells might potentially be used to accurately realize a variety of SI units, including the

Photonic chip for laser stabilization to an atomic vapor at a precision of $10^{-11}$

Matthew T. Hummon, Songbai Kang, Douglas G. Bopp, Qing Li, Daron A. Westly, Sangsik Kim, Connor D. Fredrick, Scott A. Diddams, Kartik A. Srinivasan, John E. Kitching
We perform precision spectroscopy of rubidium confined in a micro-machined, 27~mm$^3$ volume, vapor cell using a collimated free space 120~$\bm{\mu}$m diameter


A chip-scale atomic beam clock

Gabriela Martinez, Chao Li, Alexander Staron, John Kitching, Chandra Raman, William McGehee
We demonstrate a passively pumped, chip-scale atomic beam clock fabricated using a stack of silicon and glass wafers. The device could additionally serve as a

Inhomogenous Light Shifts of Coherent Population Trapping Resonances

Juniper Pollock, Valera Yudin, Alexey Taichenachev, Maxim Basalaev, D Kovalenko, Azure Hansen, John Kitching, William McGehee
Coherent population trapping (CPT) in atomic vapors using all-optical interrogation has enabled the miniaturization of microwave atomic clocks. Light shifts

Point-source atom interferometer gyroscope

Azure Hansen, Yun-Jhih Chen, John Kitching, Elizabeth Donley
Point-source atom interferometry (PSI) with cold atoms in a centimeter-scale vacuum cell has applications in inertial navigation. PSI uses light pulses in a

A simple imaging solution for chip-scale laser cooling

John Kitching, Gabriela Martinez, A, Gregazzi, Paul Griffin, Aidan Arnold, D. P. Burt, Rodolphe Bouldot, Erling Riis, James McGilligan
We demonstrate a simple stacked scheme that enables absorption imaging through a hole in the surface of a grating magneto-optical trap (GMOT) chip, placed

Patents (2018-Present)

Atomic Vapor Cell And Making An Atomic Vapor Cell

NIST Inventors
Christopher L. Holloway , Alexandra (Aly) Artusio-Glimpse , Vladimir Aksyuk , Matt Simons and John Kitching
Research over the past ten years into atomic sensors has allowed for controlled ensembles of room temperature atoms in such a manner that we are able to develop interesting and unique devices. Beside SI traceable E-field probes, other applications range from atom-based receivers to imaging

Process For Making Alkali Metal Vapor Cells

NIST Inventors
John Kitching
Making alkali metal vapor cells includes: providing a preform wafer that includes cell cavities in a cavity layer; providing a sealing wafer having a cover layer and transmission apertures; disposing a deposition assembly on the sealing wafer; disposing an alkali metal precursor in the deposition
Schematic of magnetometer/gyroscope shows layers with photodetectors on top and laser at bottom.

Compact Atomic Magnetometer and Gyroscope

NIST Inventors
John Kitching and Elizabeth Donley
An atomic magnetometer that simultaneously achieves high sensitivity, simple fabrication and small size. This design is based on a diverging (or converging) beam of light that passes through an alkali atom vapor cell and that contains a distribution of beam propagation vectors. The existence of more
Created October 29, 2018, Updated December 8, 2022