Science & Technology
World's most accurate atomic clock built
By T.K. Randall
August 24, 2013 · 11 comments
The groundbreaking ytterbium lattice atomic clock at NIST. Image Credit: Burrus/NIST
A pair of experimental atomic clocks have succeeded in setting a new world record for stability.
Physicists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology have developed two atomic clocks based on ytterbium atoms that have proved to be the most stable timepieces on the planet.
This measurement is based on how precisely the duration of each tick matches that of every other tick, in this case the clock ticks are stable to within a staggering two parts in 1 quintillion - that's a 1 followed by 18 zeroes.
The ytterbium clocks are in fact so accurate that they would continue to keep perfect time for a period longer than the entire age of the universe. Physicists believe that the breakthrough will have significant benefits in the future development of sensor equipment and could lead to the development of atomic clocks that are even more accurate.
"The stability of the ytterbium lattice clocks opens the door to a number of exciting practical applications of high-performance timekeeping," said NIST physicist and co-author Andrew Ludlow.
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