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Proceedings Paper

Hg ion atomic clock for deep space navigation and science
Author(s): John D. Prestage; Sang K. Chung; Lawrence Lim; Thanh Le
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Paper Abstract

We have recently completed a breadboard ion-clock physics package based on Hg ions shuttled between a quadrupole and a 16-pole rf trap. With this architecture we have demonstrated short-term stability ~1-2x10-13 at 1 second, averaging to 10-15 at 1 day. This development shows that H-maser quality stabilities can be produced in a small clock package, comparable in size to an ultra-stable quartz oscillator required for holding 1-2x10-13 at 1 second. This performance was obtained in a sealed vacuum configuration where only a getter pump was used to maintain vacuum. The vacuum tube containing the traps has now been under sealed vacuum conditions for nearly two years with no measurable degradation of ion trapping lifetimes or clock short-term performance. We have fabricated the vacuum tube, ion trap and UV windows from materials that will allow a ~ 400°C tube bake-out to prepare for tube seal-off. This approach to the vacuum follows the methods used in flight vacuum tube electronics, such as flight TWTA's where tube operation lifetime and shelf life of up to 15 years is achieved. We use neon as a buffer gas with 2-3 times less pressure induced frequency pulling than helium and, being heavier, negligible diffusion losses will occur over the operation lifetime.

Paper Details

Date Published: 12 September 2007
PDF: 8 pages
Proc. SPIE 6673, Time and Frequency Metrology, 667306 (12 September 2007); doi: 10.1117/12.734725
Show Author Affiliations
John D. Prestage, Jet Propulsion Lab. (United States)
Sang K. Chung, Jet Propulsion Lab. (United States)
Lawrence Lim, Jet Propulsion Lab. (United States)
Thanh Le, Jet Propulsion Lab. (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 6673:
Time and Frequency Metrology
R. Jason Jones, Editor(s)

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