Sensing and Metrology
AQuRA - Advanced quantum clock for real-world applications
It's time for the most accurate clocks in the world
The most accurate clocks in the world are optical clocks, which would be off by less than a second over the age of the universe. Imagine the opportunities for telecommunications (network synchronisation and GPS-free navigation), geology (monitoring water tables) and astronomy (low-frequency gravitational wave detection). In this context, the EU-funded AQuRA project will design the first commercial optical clock. Specifically, it will deliver the first industry-built transportable optical clock with state-of-the-art accuracy. By shrinking and ruggedising the components of the clock (from laser sources to optics and the atom source), the clock will be 20 times more accurate and three times smaller than its predecessor. Thus, the project will build, strengthen and diversify the European supply chain for optical clocks.
Optical clocks are amazingly stable frequency standards, which would remain accurate to within one second over the age of the universe. Bringing these clocks from the lab to the market offers great opportunities for telecommunications, navigation, sensing, and science, but no commercial optical clock exists. Europe's world leading optical clock technology within academia and national metrology institutes combined with its strong photonics industry, provide us with a golden opportunity to take a leading position in this strategic technology.
With AQuRA we want to seize this opportunity and build up a sovereign, efficient industrial capability able to build the world’s most advanced quantum clocks. We will deliver the first industry-built, rugged and transportable optical clock with an accuracy that approaches the best laboratory clocks. Our work is based on the experience that many of us gained by building an optical clock with industry during the Quantum Flagship project iqClock (2018-2022). In AQuRA industry takes the lead and will deliver a 20x more accurate clock in a 3x smaller volume at TRL 7. This will be possible by combining our industry partners’ experience in rugged photonics products with the know-how of our world-leading academic and national metrology institute partners. We will build, strengthen and diversify the European supply chain of optical clock components, filling critical gaps in the supply chain, and thereby establish a sovereign, competitive industry for optical clocks. In particular we will develop the rugged laser sources, miniaturized optical interface circuits, and the atom source needed for an optical clock, all of which will also become products on their own. Partner Menlo Systems will integrate these components with their ultrastable laser system into the AQuRA optical clock. We will accelerate market uptake by demonstrating our clock's usefulness to applications in telecom, geodesy and metrology, and by engaging with end users.