Development of a Next-Generation Compact Pulsed Optically Pumped Rubidium Atomic Frequency Standard (POPRAFS)

Daniel J. Clark, Jaroslaw Zacharski, Thomas McClelland

Abstract: In this presentation, we report on the development and maturation effort of a compact pulsed optically pumped rubidium atomic frequency standard (POPRAFS) at Frequency Electronics, Inc. (FEI) since 2017. By replacing the conventional rubidium clock’s light source (lamp) with a laser, and pulsing the light in a Ramsey scheme, long-term clock stability is expected to be largely enhanced by reducing the light shift/AC Stark shift. In fact, initial testing yielded a reduction in the light shift effect by a factor of 260 when operated in pulsed mode compared to continuous operation. Targeted clock performance characteristics include Allan deviation less than 1 × 10-11 ?? ?1/2 and a flicker floor of 3 × 10-14. Greater stability with reduced size, weight, and power (SOSA-aligned, less than 1 kg, less than 10 W) offers a novel resource as a portable and manufacturable frequency standard. This presentation will discuss FEI’s progress towards developing a next-generation atomic clock by presenting current clock performance as well as potential changes for further improvement. Along with clock performance, environmental sensitivities will be presented once tested and included in the overall evaluation of the clock. Although the clock has been demonstrated successfully in benchtop experiments, there are significant engineering challenges involved in designing a robust, stable, miniaturized pulsed laser light source. Namely, sufficient optical power must be supplied to the clock physics package to optically pump the rubidium, the laser must have low relative intensity noise (RIN), the laser must be frequency-locked to a robust reference, there must be adequate isolation between pulses, and the thermal sensitivity of the laser must be minimal. Additionally, reliability issues associated with the integration of the laser and associated control electronics will be addressed. We believe that the robust and ruggedized design of FEI’s POPRAFS will be capable of performing in a challenging military environment and may also have potential use for space applications. As all of the clock’s components, other than the light source, rely on FEI’s legacy technology as well as mature, well-studied, and fully-developed rubidium clock technology, we have confidence in our low-risk approach towards the rapid development of a new compact frequency standard.
Published in: Proceedings of the 53rd Annual Precise Time and Time Interval Systems and Applications Meeting
January 25 - 27, 2022
Hyatt Regency Long Beach
Long Beach, California
Pages: 67 - 79
Cite this article: Clark, Daniel J., Zacharski, Jaroslaw, McClelland, Thomas, "Development of a Next-Generation Compact Pulsed Optically Pumped Rubidium Atomic Frequency Standard (POPRAFS)," Proceedings of the 53rd Annual Precise Time and Time Interval Systems and Applications Meeting, Long Beach, California, January 2022, pp. 67-79. https://doi.org/10.33012/2022.18274
Full Paper: ION Members/Non-Members: 1 Download Credit
Sign In