The ZincClock project

Exploring zinc as a new candidate for optical clocks

Many different atomic species are currently under investigation for optical clocks. Each of them has its advantages and disadvantages, and it is not clear yet which element will, in the long run, be the most suitable choice for the most precise, accurate, robust, cheapest, or simply "best" optical clock.

Eine Wissenschaftlerin und ein Wissenschaftler arbeiten hinter einer Glasfassade und mischen Chemikalien mit Großgeräten.
© Simon Stellmer / University of Bonn

We believe that the element zinc has all the properties it takes for a competitive clock: a very broad singlet cooling transition for a fast and efficient first cooling stage, a narrow (4 kHz) triplet transition for a second cooling stage, and a very low sensitivity to black-body radiation. Most of the wavelengths required for cooling and clock operation can be derived as higher harmonics from telecom wavelengths, which simplifies the laser systems and might ease market integration.

So far, optical spectroscopy (let alone laser cooling) of Zinc have not been performed.

 In this project, we are setting up a lattice clock experiment to perform laser cooling of zinc, and to investigate its basic properties.



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