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Space Dynamics Lab Awarded 3 Patents for Cold Atom Research

By | April 3, 2020

      Atomic Clock FOCS-1 in a laboratory of the Swiss Federal Office of Metrology METAS in Bern. Photo: Wikipedia Commons

      Space Dynamics Laboratory (SDL) has recently been issued three U.S. patents for inventions used in researching cold atoms, a factor in precise space-based timing. SDL said its Elemental Alkali-Metal Dispenser, and two types of Grating Magneto Optical Traps will enable scientists and engineers to design and build atomic clocks with hyper-accuracy.

      Atomic clocks measure electromagnetic signals that are emitted from subatomic particles when they change known energy levels. Cold atoms move at a slower rate that allows for longer, more precise measurements in changes of subatomic signals. SDL said atomic clocks are the most accurate clocks that exist. The U.S. Air Force’s Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites use rubidium atomic clocks to provide timing signals necessary for effective operation. 

      “SDL has worked with the Air Force Research Laboratory to develop the recent inventions that will enable us to improve the precision of measuring cold atom phenomenology for the next generation of space-based atomic clocks,” said Michael Wojcik, SDL’s Albuquerque site lead and program manager for cold atom research. “SDL’s Elemental Alkali-Metal Dispenser will provide a more reliable and efficient distribution of rubidium atoms, the element used in the smallest atomic clocks, and new optical traps will allow lasers to more accurately distribute energy within a confined space to keep atoms near-motionless.”