20 September 2017
CST Global receives £202,000 grant for MacV CPT-based miniature quantum atomic clock research project
III-V optoelectronic foundry Compound Semiconductor Technologies Global Ltd (CST Global) of Hamilton International Technology Park, Blantyre, near Glasgow, Scotland, UK (a subsidiary of Sweden’s Sivers IMA Holdings AB) is receiving a grant of £202,056 as one of three participant members – along with Cardiff University and the National Physical Laboratory Management Ltd in Teddington, UK – in the research project MacV (‘VCSELs for miniature atomic clocks’). The government-funded project has a funded value of £705,287, with Compound Semiconductor Centre (CSC) Ltd – a joint venture between Cardiff University and epiwafer foundry and substrate maker IQE plc of Cardiff, Wales, UK – appointed as lead participant.
“The project is endeavouring to develop a commercially viable, mass-produced, coherent population trapping (CPT)-based, miniature quantum atomic clock,” says CST Global project engineer Iain Eddie. “Atomic clocks track time by measuring the vibration of an atom, hence the accuracy. The MacV quantum atomic clock will use a caesium ion, which vibrates at a very stable frequency when excited by light of the correct wavelength,” he adds.
CST Global’s involvement is in the development of a commercially viable, single-mode vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser (VCSEL) producing light at a wavelength of 894nm, which matches the resonance of the caesium ion.
“The MacV project is initially aimed at magnetic sensing applications and communications where the GPS timing signal is not available, such as military and underwater applications,” notes Eddie. “However, we foresee its use in other data transmission applications, as knowing when data is transmitted, to atomic clock accuracy, makes subsequent decryption more efficient and secure.”