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Opportunity at National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

Optical Atomic Clocks Based on Laser-Cooled Neutral Atoms


Physical Measurement Laboratory, Time and Frequency Division

RO# Location
50.68.82.C0044 Boulder, CO

Please note: This Agency only participates in the February and August reviews.


Name E-mail Phone
Ludlow, Andrew 303-497-4972


This program focuses on the development of optical atomic clocks. These next-generation atomic clocks exhibit exquisite measurement stability and accuracy, finding applications in quantum metrology; tests of fundamental physics and searches for dark matter; and advanced communication, navigation, and synchronization systems.

Current research extends across multiple efforts. The first is the ytterbium optical lattice clock: high-resolution optical spectroscopy of ultracold ytterbium confined in an optical lattice laser potential. This experiment pushes the state-of-the-art in atomic time and frequency metrology, through quantum control of optically-trapped and laser-cooled ytterbium. The second effort explores distinct architectures for realizing beyond-state-of-the-art laser frequency stabilization. This includes laser stabilization using low-thermal-noise optical cavities, as well as Ramsey-Borde atom interferometry using the intercombination ‘clock’ transition in atomic calcium Critical aspects of this research program include development of new laser cooling, quantum control, and optical spectroscopy techniques. Some aspects of this program also include research of new quantum technologies for the development of compact optical clocks.



Schioppo M, Brown RC, McGrew WF, Hinkley N, Fasano RJ, Beloy K, Yoon TH, Milani G, Nicolodi D, Sherman JA, Phillips NB, Oates CW, Ludlow AD: “Ultrastable optical clock with two cold-atom ensembles”. Nature Photonics 11: 48-52, 2017

Ludlow AD, Boyd MM, Ye J, Peik E, Schmidt PO: “Optical Atomic Clocks”. Reviews of Modern Physics 87: 637-701, 2015

Hinkley N, Sherman JA, Phillips NB, Schioppo M, Lemke ND, Beloy K, Pizzocaro M, Oates CW, Ludlow AD: “An atomic clock with 10-18 instability”. Science 341: 1215-1218, 2013


Atomic clock; Atomic physics; Optical frequency standard; Laser cooling; Neutral atoms; Optical lattice; Laser stabilization; Quantum metrology; Atom interferometry; Optical cavity;


Citizenship:  Open to U.S. citizens
Level:  Open to Postdoctoral applicants
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