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Tight real-time synchronization of a microwave clock to an optical clock across a turbulent air path



Hugo Bergeron, Laura C. Sinclair, William C. Swann, Craig Nelson, Jean-Daniel Deschenes, Esther Baumann, Fabrizio R. Giorgetta, Ian R. Coddington, Nathan R. Newbury


The ability to distribute the precise time and frequency from an optical clock to remote platforms could enable future precise navigation and sensing systems. Here we demonstrate tight, real-time synchronization of a remote microwave clock to a master optical clock over a turbulent 4-km open air path via optical two-way time-frequency transfer. Once synchronized, the 10-GHz frequency signals generated at each site agree to 10^−14 at one second and below 10^−17 at 1000 seconds. In addition, the two clock times are synchronized to ±13 fs over an 8-hour period. The ability to phase-synchronize 10-GHz signals across platforms supports future distributed coherent sensing, while the ability to time-synchronize multiple microwave-based clocks to a high-performance master optical clock supports future precision navigation/timing systems.


time and frequency transfer, free-space time transfer, synchronization, frequency comb


Bergeron, H. , Sinclair, L. , Swann, W. , Nelson, C. , Deschenes, J. , Baumann, E. , Giorgetta, F. , Coddington, I. and Newbury, N. (2016), Tight real-time synchronization of a microwave clock to an optical clock across a turbulent air path, Optica, [online],, (Accessed April 22, 2024)
Created April 14, 2016, Updated October 12, 2021