The most accurate optical single-ion clock worldwide

Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) are the first research group in the world to have built an optical single-ion clock which attains an accuracy which had only been predicted theoretically so far. As early as 1981, Hans Dehmelt, who was to be awarded a Nobel prize later, had already developed the basic notions of how to use an ion kept in a high-frequency trap to build a clock which could attain the — then unbelievably low — relative measure-ment uncertainty in the range of 1E-18. Ever since, an increasing number of research groups worldwide have been trying to achieve this with optical atomic clocks (either based on single trapped ions or on many neutral atoms). The PTB scientists are the first to have reached the finishing line using a single-ion clock. Their optical ytterbium clock achieved a relative systematic measurement uncertainty of 3 E-18. The results have been published in the current issue of the scientific journal Physical Review Letters.

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