Washington: A matchbook-sized atomic clock 100 times smaller than its commercial predecessors has been put on sale for approximately 1,500 dollars.
The portable Chip Scale Atomic Clock (CSAC) — only about 1.5 inches on a side and less than a half-inch in depth — also requires 100 times less power than its predecessors. Instead of 10 watts, it uses only 100 milliwatts.
It’s the creation of researchers at Symmetricom Inc. Draper Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories.
"It’s the difference between lugging around a device powered by a car battery and one powered by two AA batteries," said Sandia lead investigator Darwin Serkland.
Despite common implications of the word "atomic," the clock does not use radioactivity as an energy source.
Instead, where an old-fashioned alarm clock uses a spring-powered series of gears to tick off seconds, a CSAC counts the frequency of electromagnetic waves emitted by cesium atoms struck by a tiny laser beam to determine the passage of time.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) funded the work from 2001 until the CSA Clock hit the commercial market in January.
A description of the technical details of the clock can be found at Symmetricom``s website.