Argonne physicist leads research on nuclear clock

October 23, 2023, 12:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe


A major step toward the creation of the most precise atomic clock ever—with an accuracy of one second in 300 billion years—was recently reported in Nature by an international team of researchers working at the European X-Ray Free-Electron Laser (XFEL) facility. The researchers, led by senior physicist Yuri Shvyd’ko of Argonne National Laboratory, created a pulse generator based on the element scandium that demonstrated an extremely narrow resonance frequency capable of maintaining unprecedented time accuracy.

Atomic and nuclear clocks: In atomic clocks, the electrons in the atomic shells of certain elements—most commonly cesium—are raised to higher energy levels with microwave radiation. The microwave frequency is tuned to maximize the radiation absorption within a particular resonance range.

Researchers at CERN trap thorium isomers in quest for a nuclear clock

May 26, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear News
The ISOLDE facility. (Photo: CERN)

Today’s atomic clocks are exceptional timepieces that won’t lose or gain a second in 30 billion years. But if you’re looking for even more precision, you’ll be glad to learn that physicists at CERN’s ISOLDE nuclear physics facility have observed the decay of thorium-229 nuclei trapped in a crystalline structure and confirmed the potential for a nuclear clock. CERN announced the news on May 24.