Architecture for the photonic integration of an optical atomic clock


Zachary L. Newman, Vincent Maurice, Tara Drake, Jordan R. Stone, Travis C. Briles, Daryl T. Spencer, Connor Fredrick, Qing Li, Daron Westly, B. R. Ilic, Boqiang Shen, Myoung-Gyun Suh, Ki Youl Yang, Cort Johnson, David M. S. Johnson, Leo Hollberg, Kerry J. Vahala, Kartik Srinivasan, Scott A. Diddams, John Kitching, Scott B. Papp, and Matthew T. Hummon. 2019. “Architecture for the photonic integration of an optical atomic clock.” Optica, 6, 5, Pp. 680–685.


Laboratory optical atomic clocks achieve remarkable accuracy (now counted to 18 digits or more), opening possibilities for exploring fundamental physics and enabling new measurements. However, their size and the use of bulk components prevent them from being more widely adopted in applications that require precision timing. By leveraging silicon-chip photonics for integration and to reduce component size and complexity, we demonstrate a compact optical-clock architecture. Here a semiconductor laser is stabilized to an optical transition in a microfabricated rubidium vapor cell, and a pair of interlocked Kerr-microresonator frequency combs provide fully coherent optical division of the clock laser to generate an electronic 22&\#x00A0;GHz clock signal with a fractional frequency instability of one part in 1013. These results demonstrate key concepts of how to use silicon-chip devices in future portable and ultraprecise optical clocks.