A clock 100-fold more accurate than its atomic cousins

March 11th, 2012 - 5:28 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, March 11 (IANS) A new timekeeping system could be a 100 times more accurate than the best atomic clocks in existence, gaining or losing only 1/20th of a second in 14 billion years - the age of the universe.

Based on the orbiting of a neutron around an atomic nucleus, “it would allow scientists to test fundamental physical theories at unprecedented levels of precision and provide an unmatched tool for applied physics research,” study co-author Victor Flambaum.

Flambaum, professor of theoretical physics at the University of New South Wales School of Physics, co-authored the study with rsearchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of Nevada, the journal Physical Review Letters reports.

Flambaum and New South Wales colleague Vladimir Dzuba reported that their proposed single-ion clock would be accurate to 19 decimal places, according to Wales statement.

The exquisite accuracy of atomic clocks is widely used in applications ranging from GPS navigation systems and high-bandwidth data transfer to tests of fundamental physics and system synchronization in particle accelerators.

“With these clocks currently pushing up against significant accuracy limitations, a next-generation system is desired to explore the realms of extreme measurement precision and further diversified applications unreachable by atomic clocks,” says Flambaum.

“Atomic clocks use the orbiting electrons of an atom as the clock pendulum. But we have shown that by using lasers to orient the electrons in a very specific way, one can use the orbiting neutron of an atomic nucleus as the clock pendulum, making a so-called nuclear clock with unparalleled accuracy.”

-Indo-Asian News Service
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