An Atomic Clock with 10−18 Instability

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Science  22 Aug 2013:
DOI: 10.1126/science.1240420

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Atomic clocks have been instrumental in science and technology, leading to innovations such as global positioning, advanced communications, and tests of fundamental constant variation. Timekeeping precision at 1 part in 1018 enables new timing applications in relativistic geodesy, enhanced Earth- and space-based navigation and telescopy, and new tests of physics beyond the Standard Model. Here, we describe the development and operation of two optical lattice clocks, both utilizing spin-polarized, ultracold atomic ytterbium. A measurement comparing these systems demonstrates an unprecedented atomic clock instability of 1.6 × 10−18 after only 7 hours of averaging.

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