CORDIS
EU research results

CORDIS

English EN
Towards a nuclear clock with Thorium-229

Towards a nuclear clock with Thorium-229

Objective

Atomic clocks are the backbone of our modern communication and navigation technology, e.g. through the global positioning system (GPS). Improving these clocks will open up exciting new applications in geodesy, fleet tracking, autonomous vehicles, augmented reality and shed light on some of the most fundamental questions in research.

Today’s best atomic clocks lose only 1 second in 30 billion years, making them the most precise measurement devices ever built. However, such clocks are extremely delicate and susceptible to external perturbations; they can only be operated in specialized laboratories.

We propose to develop a novel type of clock, based on a unique nuclear transition in Thorium-229. This nuclear clock will be fundamentally different from existing atomic clocks, which are based on transitions in the electron shell. It will be largely inert to perturbations, simpler by design, and holds the potential to outperform existing atomic clocks in terms of precision.
So far, progress towards an application of the Thorium nuclear transition has been hampered by the extreme technological challenges related to the scarcity of 229Th, insufficient detector resolution, and exotic lasers frequencies. Suitable technology is only becoming available just now. Furthermore, this research demands supreme expertise in a variety of fields, encompassing nuclear and atomic physics, quantum optics, metrology, as well as detector- and laser technology. Our interdisciplinary consortium is assembled to precisely match these requirements, joining for the first time Europe’s leading research groups in the respective fields.

The work will focus on two objectives; (i) finding clear evidence of the transition and measuring its frequency, and (ii) developing all key components required for operation of a nuclear clock. We are certain that next-generation satellite-based navigation technology and other precision timing applications will greatly benefit from more precise and robust clocks.

Coordinator

TECHNISCHE UNIVERSITAET WIEN

Address

Karlsplatz 13
1040 Wien

Austria

Activity type

Higher or Secondary Education Establishments

EU Contribution

€ 900 000

Participants (6)

Sort alphabetically

Sort by EU Contribution

Expand all

PHYSIKALISCH-TECHNISCHE BUNDESANSTALT

Germany

EU Contribution

€ 656 250

LUDWIG-MAXIMILIANS-UNIVERSITAET MUENCHEN

Germany

EU Contribution

€ 606 250

RUPRECHT-KARLS-UNIVERSITAET HEIDELBERG

Germany

EU Contribution

€ 288 750

JYVASKYLAN YLIOPISTO

Finland

EU Contribution

€ 247 827,50

MAX-PLANCK-GESELLSCHAFT ZUR FORDERUNG DER WISSENSCHAFTEN EV

Germany

EU Contribution

€ 327 500

TOPTICA PHOTONICS AG

Germany

EU Contribution

€ 943 750

Project information

Grant agreement ID: 664732

Status

Closed project

  • Start date

    1 June 2015

  • End date

    31 May 2019

Funded under:

H2020-EU.1.2.1.

  • Overall budget:

    € 3 970 327,50

  • EU contribution

    € 3 970 327,50

Coordinated by:

TECHNISCHE UNIVERSITAET WIEN

Austria