The clock does not lose or gain a second in billions of years? It is now possible.

Researchers have shown that dissipative Kerr solitons (DKSs) can be used to create chip-based optical frequency combs with sufficient output power for use in optical atomic clocks and other practical applications. Photo credit: Grégory Moille, Joint Quantum Institute, NIST/University of Maryland.

Imagine a clock so accurate it won’t advance or recede a second in billions of years, or a tool that can measure light so perfectly it could revolutionize computers and communications.

Scientists are getting closer and closer to realizing these incredible devices.

And they do that by putting tiny computer chips in a brighter light.

First, let’s talk about something called an “optical frequency comb.”

Think of it like a ruler, just for light. Just as rulers have multiple markings for measuring length, these combs have many “teeth” similar to the markings on a ruler but used to measure light frequencies.

These teeth can be very precise and are useful for devices that require accurate timekeeping, such as high-precision clocks.

Typically, these combs are made using large, power-hungry lasers found in fancy labs. But Grégory Moille, a researcher at the Joint Quantum Institute, and his team are working to put them on tiny computer chips.

Putting them on chips is cool because it uses a lot less power, but there’s a problem. The teeth on these mini-combs aren’t very strong, making them less useful for certain tasks, like working with extremely accurate atomic clocks.

Here’s the breakthrough: The researchers found a way to make these mini-combs on chips much stronger.

They did this by pointing another, weaker laser into the system. This allowed them to tweak the mini-combs and greatly increase their performance, making them more than 15 times more powerful in some cases.

Why is this so exciting?

First, more powerful mini-combs on chips can be used in real-world applications, such as those super-precise clocks. Imagine if this level of precision were available not only in high-end labs, but also in everyday devices.

In addition, these combs emit small pulses of light that can be used to measure very high-frequency light waves.

This technology could connect computers and communication systems in new ways. These connections would be super fast, since the light waves used here can vibrate (or “wiggle”) 10,000 times faster than the electronic waves we use today.

To make all this possible, the scientists used so-called “Kerr solitons”. These are small packets of light that are balanced in a specific way to make this technology work. By synchronizing these Kerr solitons with another laser, the researchers managed to make the combs significantly more powerful.

They have already proven that their idea works both in theory and in actual experiments. However, they believe they can make these mini combs even more powerful, opening the door for even cooler and more useful gadgets in the future.

So next time you’re running late and want a more accurate clock or are frustrated by slow internet speeds, remember that brighter lasers on tiny chips could soon be the heroes saving the day.

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Source: Optica.


Laura Coffey

Laura Coffey is a Worldtimetodays U.S. News Reporter based in Canada. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Laura Coffey joined Worldtimetodays in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing: LauraCoffey@worldtimetodays.com.

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