ColdQuanta to develop atomic clocks for Office of Naval Research

February 8, 2022  - By
Image: agsandrew/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Image: agsandrew/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Next generation of atomic clocks to provide improved performance, stability and durability for U.S. Department of Defense

ColdQuanta has been awarded a 5-year subcontract to develop portable atomic clocks for the Office of Naval Research. ColdQuanta will serve as a subcontractor to Vescent Photonics, which secured the $15.6 million total award.

Under the Compact Rubidium Optical Clock (CROC) program, ColdQuanta will provide the physics package with development inputs from the Atomic Devices and Instrumentation Group at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The program began in November 2021 and will span three phases through 2026.

As part of the CROC program, ColdQuanta and its partners will design, build and deliver a new generation of high-performance atomic clocks ready for field deployment at a high technology readiness level (TRL). Specifically, the program will interrogate a two-photon optical clock transition in a warm vapor of rubidium atoms to achieve improved stability and performance. The clocks will also offer reduced size, weight and power consumption.

ColdQuanta is participating in the project alongside Vescent, which will provide optical frequency comb technology, and Octave Photonics and the Quantum Nanophotonics Group at NIST, which will supply crucial advances in non-linear nanophotonics. The outcome of the program will be 10 prototype field-deployable optical clocks at or above TRL 6 that exhibit long-term instability to better than three parts in 100 trillion and offer >50% reduction in power consumption.

The CROC program will be conducted in three phases:

  • Phase 1: All critical technology elements advanced to TRL 6 and demonstrated in a modular clock.
  • Phase 2: Engineering and verification efforts to integrate the individual components into prototype clocks.
  • Phase 3: Manufacturing 10 final prototype clocks for ONR evaluation in relevant platforms.

About the Author: Tracy Cozzens

Senior Editor Tracy Cozzens joined GPS World magazine in 2006. She also is editor of GPS World’s newsletters and the sister website Geospatial Solutions. She has worked in government, for non-profits, and in corporate communications, editing a variety of publications for audiences ranging from federal government contractors to teachers.