Optical Metrology

Shining light on precision time-keeping

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Science  12 Sep 2014:
Vol. 345, Issue 6202, pp. 1307-1308
DOI: 10.1126/science.345.6202.1307-f

Keeping time typically works by counting the ticks on a clock. A new generation of clocks based on the optical transitions of atoms can sub-divide each second into billions of finer ticks, making it possible to measure even the fleetest of moments. The physical mechanism (or clockwork) of such accurate timepieces is complex, limiting them largely to national laboratories. Papp et al. show that a chip-based approach, in which optics are integrated with semiconductor-based microresonators, can provide an easy way to engineer such complex clockwork. Their approach promises a new era of metrology that makes precision timekeeping widely available.

Optica 10.1364/OPTICA.1.000010 (2015).

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