ColdQuanta Atomic Clocks

Nextbigfuture interviewed Max Perez of ColdQuanta. Max Perez is the Vice President of Research and Security Solutions at ColdQuanta.

ColdQuanta’s cold atom method is a transformational foundational technology platform:

ColdQuanta creates ultra-high vacuum cells that are injected with atoms
Using laser cooling, ColdQuanta cools the atoms to near absolute zero
The system is kept at room temperature while only the atoms remain ultracold, allowing devices to be deployed in rugged environments
Lasers are also used to hold atoms in place and control their quantum states
The key difference among the various end applications of ColdQuanta’s technology is primarily the arrangement of the atoms

They uses lasers to hold atoms in lattices or arrays. For quantum computers, they hold them 3 microns apart. They can hold thousands of atoms. They can use the lasers to reduce the vibrations of the atoms which brings their temperature to absolute zero even though the entire system is at room temperature.

They can create bose einstein condensate on demand.

They are creating new microwave atomic clock and optical clocks. They have three microwave atomic clock programs with different form factors. They are reducing the size (volume) and startup times. The different clocks use different atoms with different frequencies.

The optical clocks will leverage smaller frequency combs to get to 100 times higher accuracy than the main commercial atomic clocks. The main commercial clocks are fridge-sized and cost about $80000.

The Coldquanta clocks have far faster startup. They can be nearly instant startup versus a day or more for commercial atomic clocks to start.

There is the traditional atomic clock market and then there are new markets if a smaller but still highly accurate clock could be made.

Precise time can be used to determine precise position. This is why GPS is based upon atomic clocks. The Military wants portable atomic clocks when the GPS signals are blocked. Every missile and precision munition and military vehicle would need unblockable GPS.

Google uses atomic clocks for the Spanner database. Better atomic clocks could improve the scaling of databases and Google services to enable 100X more database operations per second. Multiple clocks would be needed for every data center.

The technology that ColdQuanta perfects with lasers and atom control and miniturization are needed for all of the other applications. Coldquanta will perfect foundational capabilities and generate significant revenue in this commercial space to open up a far larger universe of atom based technologies. Atomtronics, QuantumRF, error corrected quantum computers with millions or trillions of qubits and much more become possible.

How could ColdQuanta success effect your everyday life? You can get faster communications (higher speed broadband, nextbigfuture will discuss QuantumRF next article), millimeter accurate GPS, hundreds of times higher database transactions and then atomtronics could replace electronics in certain situations. Also, there clearly will be many currently unknown benefits for getting greater and greater control of atoms and light and decreasing the form factors for devices with that control.

SOURCES- Coldquanta, Nextbigfuture Interview of Max Perez of Coldquanta
Written By Brian Wang,

6 thoughts on “ColdQuanta Atomic Clocks”

  1. So atomic clocks for wrist watches wouldn't make sense until they were cheaper than a good quartz crystal oscillator clock.

    That's very wrong. It only needs to be affordable. And not even necessarily that with all the morbidly expensive snob watches out there.

  2. Because conventional quartz crystal oscillator clocks are accurate enough for all normal applications. If made properly they're good to a few seconds a year, and can be periodically corrected by time signals to be better than that.

    So atomic clocks for wrist watches wouldn't make sense until they were cheaper than a good quartz crystal oscillator clock.

  3. It would be nice to get centimeter accuracy instantly, rather than averaged over time. But, really, the improvement that's really needed for GPS is more signal strength.

    I'm pretty sure the faster broadband would be a non-clock application of their "atomtronics".

  4. Right. Also, absolute zero violates the laws of physics.

    It's also an exaggeration to say that GPS will have millimeter accuracy. Most of the error for GPS comes from atmospheric fluctuations, which is why differential GPS is helpful. A better clock doesn't compensate for the changing atmosphere. 

    And even today, if you set up a GPS receiver that is stationary for 24 hours, and you average its results over that period, you can get centimeter accuracy. No improved clocks needed.

    And I don't understand the claim about faster broadband. A better clock wouldn't help you push more bits per second through a single optical fiber.

  5. It's been more than a decade since I read about single atom atomic clocks and chip-scale atomic clocks. So why don't all watches come with atomic clocks in them?

  6. "They can use the lasers to reduce the vibrations of the atoms which
    brings their temperature to absolute zero even though the entire system
    is at room temperature."

    That's a bit of an exaggeration. Laser cooling actually does have a floor based on the energy of the transition being exploited, and micro-Kelvins are not *quite* zero.

Comments are closed.