Precise measurement of time is essential for many aspects of modern technology. The ubiquitous need for a stable frequency or wavelength reference has major implications for applications related to navigation, communication, positioning, exploration and security. The typical quartz oscillators are susceptible to environmental factors and suffer from signal drift and so are unacceptable for time-critical applications. Atomic clocks address this by sampling the oscillation of atoms yet there are few miniaturized clocks which offer low power consumption, low cost, small footprint and high enough accuracy.
We propose a CMOS-compatible chip-scale atomic clock based on the use of integrated optics fully integrated with a vapor cell. This design incorporates optical waveguides, a hot vapor cell, photo-detector and electronics on the same small form-factor chip.
Figure 1 Ladder Transition –Telecom Operation Resonant Two Photon Absorption At 1529 Nm
Our chip-scale atomic clock has a very small form factor, has low power consumption and can be integrated on a chip with other functionalities.
The need for atomic-level precision time-keeping for consumer products is clear, particularly in areas where mission-critical satellite-independent frequency referencing is essential. Featured applications include vehicle communication in level 5 autonomous driving, UAVs, and defense communication. While these likely will be the early use cases, affordable chip-scale CMOS-compatible atomic clocks will open up a massive opportunity for consumer products.