Late for a date? Nuclear clocks are here. Atomic clocks are the time-keeping standards of today, used in countless applications including GPS technology, data transfer and particle accelerators. Nuclear clocks are estimated to be “nearly 100 times more accurate than the best atomic clocks we have now,” says Professor Victor Flambaum of the University of New South Wales.
• Atomic clocks track the orbit of electrons, essentially using them as a sort of pendulum. But the electrons are subject to slight external interference, leading to small errors. The new suggestion is to use lasers to orient the electrons in an atom so precisely that one can look through them and track a single neutron orbiting the atom’s nucleus. Neutrons are virtually immune to interference.
• This so-called single-ion clock, or nuclear clock, would be accurate to 19 decimal places or by a twentieth of a second over 14 billion years, roughly the age of the Universe.
• H/T ZME Science for the story: http://www.zmescience.com/research/nuclear-clock-most-accurate-in-world-042343/ The paper is to be published in Phys. Rev. Lett.