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.