New Atomic Clocks to Get Precision Timing Down Cold, Back up GPS for Infrastructure - Inside GNSS - Global Navigation Satellite Systems Engineering, Policy, and Design

New Atomic Clocks to Get Precision Timing Down Cold, Back up GPS for Infrastructure

ColdQuanta received two development contracts from U.S. Government agencies worth $2.55M in total, based on the company’s Quantum Core technology that uses atoms cooled to a temperature of nearly absolute zero, and lasers to manipulate and control the atoms with extreme precision. According to the Boulder, Colorado-based company, cold atom quantum technology can be used for secure global navigation, quantum timekeeping, and communications.

Quantum Atomic Clock

The Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research & Engineering (OUSD (R&E)) awarded ColdQuanta $1.8M for the development of a prototype atomic clock that could enable reliable, highly accurate, position, navigation, and timing (PNT) capabilities, necessary for the functioning of critical infrastructure around the world: financial networks, computer, TV, and radio services, and more.  Because of GPS signal vulnerability, the development and deployment of a PNT system that doesn’t depend on GPS is a critical need across governments and industry. This is especially true for mobile systems such as aircraft and spacecraft that need to know their position with great precision even when GPS is unavailable.

Under the project, ColdQuanta will deliver a state-of-the-art atomic clock with “instant on” capability if a GPS signal is lost, with a timing accuracy comparable to the best commercial clocks. It will also be ruggedized, portable, and compact to enable its use in aircraft, and will minimize the power draw in between periods of demand.

“Combining this with ColdQuanta’s development of related inertial navigation devices such as gyroscopes, accelerometers, and gravimeters, will lead to the first Quantum Positioning Systems,” explained Dan Caruso, executive chairman and CEO of ColdQuanta.

Miniaturized Ion Trap System

The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) awarded ColdQuanta $750K for the development of a high-performance miniature ion trap system, applicable to a spectrum of quantum applications including quantum networks, computing, metrology, and timekeeping.

ColdQuanta previously developed a prototype miniaturized ion trapping system with performance that is competitive with traditional, large-footprint vacuum systems. The system maximizes performance and robustness while minimizing size, weight, and power consumption (SWaP). The new AFRL award will build on the success of this prototype to increase performance, reduce cost, and create a robust architecture for deployable quantum platforms.

Quantum Technology

According to a statement by Bo Ewald, retired CEO of ColdQuanta, “Quantum technology is the closest thing to the way Mother Nature operates the universe. Quantum systems will be faster, more accurate, more sensitive, more powerful by factors of 10–1,000.” See his tutorial, Welcome to the Quantum Revolution, and a the companh’s Quantum Core Introduction in these videos.