Chip-scale Optical Clocks

Size, Weight and Power (SWaP) requirements of industrial applications using accurate time/frequency references are increasingly demanding. Thanks to the realization of the PiQuET infrastructure, INRiM started a new research line for the institute with the goal of developing chip-scale optical clocks (target volume 200 cc). Optical transitions will be employed to guarantee ambitious performances and the core elements of the system will be realized on a chip slightly larger than a 1 cent coin.

The activities involve several pipelines:

- Atomic frequency reference miniaturization, for reliability and stability: microcells realization using MEMS technology, containing rubidium vapors. The atoms act as a "metronome" e provide a stable frequency;

- Optical frequency comb miniaturization: design and fabrication of silicon nitride microresonators, which are capable - thanks to non-linear optics effects - to provide a system that allows the conversion of the optical frequency (which is not directly exploitable by the current electronic systems) to a microwave one;

- realization (and subsequent miniaturization) of the auxiliary electronics and frequency chains, that help the clock work.

Contact us: c.gionco[at]


Chiara Gionco