Home Science NIST built strontium atomic clock with 2cm gravitational shift accuracy

NIST built strontium atomic clock with 2cm gravitational shift accuracy


Atomic clocks are intended to be amongst the most accurate clocks in the world. For good reason, they need to carry precise time, because it’s ultimately how time is viewed throughout the rest of the world. Creating a precise clock is important for those reasons, plus, it gives scientists a better idea of when key events happened in our universe’s history. For example, understanding when a significant meteorological event, or event in our solar system is really only possible thanks to these particular types of clocks. The atomic kind that actually can tell precisely when things happen – and only lose a second of time throughout an extremely long period of time.

According to scientists the new clock is so precise that it won’t lose, or gain, even one second over the course of 15 billion years. This is an incredible accomplishment, and one that really could strike to give scientists better measures moving forward. For some perspective, this clock’s error rate is actually greater than the estimated age of the very universe we live in.

Atomic clock 2

Essentially, the clock is just measuring the oscillation of strontium atoms. That’s how it creates its tick, and that’s how it ultimately tells time and keeps time. The Coordinated Universal Time, which is sometimes referred to as UTC uses an atomic clock that measures the vibrational frequency of caesium. The bigger picture item here is the accuracy factor. It’s the reason why everything like this is being done. The team at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the University of Colorado Boulder were the individuals responsible for putting together this incredible piece technology.


The co-author of the study Jun Ye, who is a physicist at JILA pointed out that, “Our performance means that we can measure the gravitational shift when you raise the clock just 2 centimeters [0.79 inches] on the Earth’s surface.” The potential benefits of a clock this precise, which can pick up on such small differences, is really something that shouldn’t be denied in the modern world and from this point forward it looks like this super-precise clock will become a mainstay in the global science community.

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