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Making optical atomic clocks more stable with 10-16 level laser stabilization

Published

Author(s)

Andrew D. Ludlow, Yanyi Jiang, Nathan D. Lemke, Richard W. Fox, Jeffrey A. Sherman, Long-Sheng Ma, Christopher W. Oates

Abstract

The superb precision of an atomic clock is derived from its stability. Atomic clocks based on optical (rather than microwave) frequencies are attractive because of their potential for high stability, which scales with operational frequency. Nevertheless, optical clocks have not yet realized this vast potential, due in large part to limitations of the laser used to excite the atomic resonance. To address this problem, we demonstrate a cavity-stabilized laser system with a reduced thermal noise floor, exhibiting a fractional frequency instability of 2 × 10-16. We use this laser as a stable optical source in a Yb optical lattice clock to resolve an ultranarrow 1 Hz linewidth for the 518 THz clock transition. With the stable laser source and the signal to noise ratio (S/N) afforded by the Yb optical clock, we dramatically reduce key stability limitations of the clock, and make measurements consistent with a clock instability of 5 × 10-16 / √Τ.
Citation
Nature Photonics
Volume
5

Keywords

Atomic clock, Optical clock, Laser spectroscopy, Laser stabilization, ytterbium, Dick effect

Citation

Ludlow, A. , Jiang, Y. , Lemke, N. , Fox, R. , Sherman, J. , Ma, L. and Oates, C. (2011), Making optical atomic clocks more stable with 10<sup>-16</sup> level laser stabilization, Nature Photonics, [online], https://tsapps.nist.gov/publication/get_pdf.cfm?pub_id=907608 (Accessed December 7, 2021)
Created January 23, 2011, Updated February 19, 2017