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Building a Better Atomic Clock

TitleBuilding a Better Atomic Clock
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsBloom, BJ
Academic DepartmentPhysics
Number of Pages160
Date Published2014-06
UniversityUniversity of Colorado

Since 1967, the Second has been defined by the CGPM as 9,192,631,770 periods of oscillation corresponding to a transition between two hyperfine levels in a Cesium atom with zero external fields. Key to this denition was the fact that as experimentalists found new and more precise ways to measure this frequency, the definition of the second would become more and more accurate with time. However, in the last 30 years, new technologies based on tunable lasers addressing optical transitions in atoms, ions, and molecules have offered an entirely new approach to defining the Second with significantly higher precision and accuracy. Here, I will show that by trapping thousands of atoms inside a specially engineered optical lattice, one can create an extremely accurate frequency standard with 2 orders of magnitude improvement over current Cs standards. Furthermore, I will explain that standards based on this technology are fundamentally more stable than the primary standard by 3 orders of magnitude. Leapfrogging the currently held accuracy records of ion clocks, this work documents the first optical lattice clock to best all other atomic clock implementations, a mere 8 years after the first proof of principle experiments. In this thesis I will describe how we have overcome a number of important systematic uncertainties to achieve these results. This revolution in accuracy and precision opens the door for new experiments utilizing the clock as a probe of quantum many-body physics. To this end, a new apparatus has been designed that combines the unprecedented precision of clock experiments with the amazing progress attained in quantum gas experiments.

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