China is now mass producing atomic clocks that are just 17 millimeters thick, according to the Xinhua News Agency.
The previous version of the rubidium clock, developed in2015, could fit in the palm of one’s hand but was almost 40 millimeters thick. The new clock is 76 millimeters long by 76 millimeters wide. This new generation of the clock also has a plug-in design, which will make it easy to insert and remove from circuit boards.
The new clocks, which Xinhua described as being “the key to the positioning and timing accuracy of BeiDou navigation satellites,” were developed by a research institute under China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp Ltd., or CASIC. CASIC is a state-owned organization that develops and builds on aerospace electronics, aerospace hardware and missile systems.
Though CASIC is primarily focused on defense it also develops and produces civilian products and services like telecommunications — where the new clock is expected to have applications. The new clock will also be useful in aviation as well as other broader markets, Xinhua reported.
Developed last year, the new design reportedly performs better than the previous generation despite its smaller size. It is more resistant to high temperatures and can perform at up 70 Celsius (158 degrees Fahrenheit). It also has a taming function, enabling the clock to be automatically recognized and tamed by the pulse per second (PPS) signal provided by navigation satellite systems, improving the accuracy of local frequency, Xinhau stated.