19 February 2018
CST Global receiving £151,699 of UK government funding to lead HELCATS atomic clock project
© Semiconductor Today Magazine / Juno PublishiPicture: Disco’s DAL7440 KABRA laser saw.
III-V optoelectronic foundry Compound Semiconductor Technologies Global Ltd (CST Global, a subsidiary of Sweden’s Sivers IMA Holdings AB) is to lead the project HELCATS (High-power phosphorous-based, DFB lasers for cold atom systems) from its facility in Blantyre, Glasgow, Scotland, UK.
The project will enable miniaturized atomic clock systems using strontium ions. Atomic clocks are critical in determining position in navigation and defence applications and core to powering next-generation telecommunications systems.
CST Global is working with research partner National Physical Laboratory Ltd (NPL) and academic partner the University of Glasgow on the project. Running from March 2018 to February 2019, the project will cost a total of £497,574, with government funding of £396,441, of which CST Global will receive £151,699.
“Currently, there are no commercially available semiconductor lasers developed for use in miniature strontium atomic clock applications,” says research engineer Dr Olek Kowalski (who leads the project). “The strontium atomic clock system we are targeting requires four phosphorous-based gallium arsenide (GaAs) distributed feedback (DFB) laser sources, operating between 690 to 710nm,” he adds.
“We will use a low-loss waveguide approach to enable narrow emission linewidths and photonic integration for on-chip manufacturing of separate DFB and ampliﬁer elements,” Kowalski continues. “This design will not only help reduce the size, weight and cost of the quantum clock light sources, but also improve reliability and output power. We are expecting a 10,000-fold improvement in accuracy when compared to current systems.”