Coulomb Crystals for Clocks

Short Name: CC4C, Project Number: 17FUN07
Image showing a businessman showing 'Time is Money' concept
Person with 'Time is Money' concept

Investigating the next generation of atomic clocks

Atomic clocks form the basis of international time keeping, providing highly accurate time to a wide range of sectors around the world.

The next generation of atomic clocks are based on optical frequencies using laser-cooled trapped ions. These ultra-precise optical clocks hold significant promise for increasing measurement accuracy and stability, and rapid progress has been made in reducing their uncertainties.

To continue to optimise optical clocks for commercial applications such as communication and navigation, further understanding and control of ion sources is needed. This in turn requires that the necessary experimental equipment is made accessible.


This project investigated laser-cooled trapped ions for optical clocks, examining the characteristics of multi-ion sources.

It also implemented an advanced form of laser cooling, and developed transportable equipment to enable experiments to be carried out at nuclear physics and optical measurement laboratories.

By supporting the reliability and precision of trapped ion optical clocks, this project helps to meet growing industry need for accurate time, and provides an essential contribution to the revised SI unit system.


This project builds on from EMPIR project 15SIB03 OC18.


Project website
Motional heating of spatially extended ion crystals

Quantum Science and Technology

Nuclear clocks for testing fundamental physics

Quantum Science and Technology

Simulation of Motion of Many Ions in a Linear Paul Trap

International Journal of Modern Physics A

Other Participants
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Universität Hannover (Germany)
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft zur Foerderung der Wissenschaften e.V. (Germany)
Technische Universitaet Wien (Austria)
Ústav přístrojové techniky AV ČR, v.v.i. (Czech Republic)