China’s super-thin rubidium atomic clock, which is just 17 millimeters thick, has been put into mass production, said its manufacturer.
An atomic clock is a clock device that uses a hyperfine transition frequency in the microwave, or electron transition frequency in the optical, or ultraviolet region of the electromagnetic spectrum of atoms as a frequency standard for its timekeeping element. Atomic clocks are the most accurate time and frequency standards known, and are used as primary standards for international time distribution services, to control the wave frequency of television broadcasts, and in global navigation satellite systems such as GPS.
The clock, developed in 2018 by a research institute under the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation Limited, is the key to the positioning and timing accuracy of BeiDou navigation satellites.
Compared with the previous generation, the new clock is smaller in size but performs better. It adopts a plug-in design, making it easy to insert and remove on circuit board. With stronger resistance to high temperatures, it can work at 70 degrees Celsius.
The clock can be used in fields such as aviation, aerospace and telecommunications. According to its developers, the ultra-accurate clock will have a broader market prospect in the future.
A large number of self-developed rubidium and hydrogen atomic clocks have been carried by satellites that provide accurate positioning for China’s BeiDou Navigation Satellite System.
The atomic clocks are the workhorses that send synchronized signals so sat-nav receivers can triangulate their position on Earth.