DARPA to Develop Advanced Tiny Chip-Scale Atomic Clocks for Military PNT Applications

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September 10, 2019 | Originally published by Date Line: September 10 on

Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is presently working on an advanced version of its first-generation, battery-powered, miniature chip-scale atomic clock (CSAC) with 1000x performance improvements for positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) applications.

DARPA’s Atomic Clock with Enhanced Stability (ACES) program aims to build the next-generation atomic clock owing to the limitations of the now commercially available CSACs.

“Today’s communications, navigation, financial transaction, distributed cloud, and defense applications rely on the precision timing of atomic clocks – or clocks that track time based on the oscillation of atoms with the highest degrees of accuracy. Harnessing the power of atoms for precise timing requires a host of sophisticated and bulky technologies that are costly to develop and consume large amounts of energy,” DARPA said in a statement Tuesday.

The CSACs offer unprecedented timing stability for their size, weight, and power (SWaP). Calibration requirements and frequency drift can generate timing errors, making it difficult to achieve the highest degrees of accuracy and reliability in a portable package, the statement read.

Through the exploration of alternative physics architectures and novel component technologies, three sets of researchers have demonstrated early progress toward creating CSACs with 1000x improvement in temperature control, aging, and retrace.

Related Link

OSA, The Optical Society, Architecture for the Photonic Integration of an Optical Atomic Clock