FEMTO-2ND: FEmtosecond Measurement Technology Options - Second Generation (Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund)

Project: Central government, health and local authorities

Project Details


There are a multitude of both civilian and military applications needing precise timing and timekeeping. There is
considerable interest is so-called chip-scale atomic clocks exploiting quantum effects and having stabilities of the order of
1E-12 for simple thermal atom clocks to 1E-16 in the case of optical lattice clocks. The applications of compact atomic
clocks are vast and include:
1. Autonomous navigation, e.g., automotive, maritime, aviation, personal;
2. Space, e.g., micro satellites;
3. Communications, e.g., cellular systems, telecommunications networks, military radio;
4. Finance, e.g., high-frequency computer based trading, data security
The FEMTO project is a direct response to the challenges outlined in the UK Quantum Technology Landscape 2014
(Pritchard & Till, 2014). The project is the first step towards transforming the new quantum clock technologies from
research laboratory experiments into engineered solutions. The new quantum clock technologies, encompassing thermal
atom, trapped single cold-atom and trapped multiple cold-atom physics are disruptive innovations. Such clocks will create
new markets and applications through both their improved stability and also potential reduction in size, weight, power and
To reap the benefits of the new quantum science innovation, engineering innovation is now required. The understanding
and behaviour of quantum clock physics has been obtained in the well-defined, benign confines of a laboratory, using
general-purpose equipment. The challenge now is to develop robust physics packages able to withstand the end-user
environment while optimising the electronic systems for performance, power, mass, volume and cost. Recognising the
variety of applications for the new quantum clocks, the approach of FEMTO includes a number of innovations to maintain
flexibility. There will likely not be a single optimum solution for any application; one may wish to have best performance
(highest stability) or best efficiency (lowest power). FEMTO will allow the user to choose. There are no current commercial
clocks with such capabilities.
Effective start/end date1/10/1730/06/18


  • Innovate UK