Research Article

An Optical Clock Based on a Single Trapped 199Hg+ Ion

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Science  03 Aug 2001:
Vol. 293, Issue 5531, pp. 825-828
DOI: 10.1126/science.1061171

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Microwave atomic clocks have been the de facto standards for precision time and frequency metrology over the past 50 years, finding widespread use in basic scientific studies, communications, and navigation. However, with its higher operating frequency, an atomic clock based on an optical transition can be much more stable. We demonstrate an all-optical atomic clock referenced to the 1.064-petahertz transition of a single trapped199Hg+ ion. A clockwork based on a mode-locked femtosecond laser provides output pulses at a 1-gigahertz rate that are phase-coherently locked to the optical frequency. By comparison to a laser-cooled calcium optical standard, an upper limit for the fractional frequency instability of 7 × 10−15 is measured in 1 second of averaging—a value substantially better than that of the world's best microwave atomic clocks.

  • * To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: sdiddams{at}

  • Present address: Max-Planck-Institut für Quantenoptik, Hans-Kopfermann Strasse 1, 85748, Garching, Germany.

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