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Breakthrough: Researchers developing atomic clocks to replace GPS and Galileo

Recently, scientists in the Emergent Photonics Lab (EPic Lab) at the University of Sussex, have made a discovery of an important element of atomic clock devices which could reduce reliance on satellite mapping in the future using cutting-edge laser beam technology.

Dr. Alessia Pasquazi from the EPic Lab in the School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences at the University of Sussex said, “With a portable atomic clock, an ambulance, for example, will be able to still access their mapping whilst in a tunnel, and a commuter will be able to plan their route whilst on the underground or without mobile phone signal in the countryside. Portable atomic clocks would work on an extremely accurate form of geo-mapping, enabling access to your location and planned route without the need for satellite signal.

Our breakthrough improves the efficiency of the part of the clock responsible for counting by 80%. This takes us one step closer to seeing portable atomic clocks replacing satellite mapping, like GPS, which could happen within 20 years.

This technology will change people’s everyday lives as well as potentially being applicable in driverless cars, drones and the aerospace industry. It’s exciting that this development has happened here at Sussex.”

Their invention will greatly improve the efficiency of the lancet (which in a traditional clock is responsible for counting), by 80%. And in the future, portable atomic clocks will completely replace satellite mapping within 20 years.

GPS working

Components involved when updating the GPS almanach using A-GPS and a GSM network (Source: Wikimedia/ Adlerweb)

Professor Marco Peccianti from the University of Sussex EPic Labs said, “We are moving towards the integration of our device with that of the ultra-compact atomic reference (or pendulum) developed by Professor Matthias Keller’s research group here at the University of Sussex. Working together, we plan to develop a portable atomic clock that could revolutionize the way we count time in the future.

Our development represents a significant step forward in the production of practical atomic clocks,and we’re extremely excited by our plans, which range from partnerships with the UK aerospace industry – which could come to fruition within five years –  through to portable atomic clocks that could be housed in your phone and within driverless cars and drones within 20 years.”

According to researchers, the compact laser-based atomic clock developed by the University of Sussex team could revolutionize the way we count time in the future.

More Infohttps://www.nature.com/articles/s41566-019-0379-5