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Atomic watches

In a few years, people will use atomic wristwatches - those whose level of accuracy is maximum by any standard.

Today, atomic clocks that provide an extreme level of accuracy and are based on measuring the vibration of atoms - are used only by research institutes. An atomic clock has been known for about 50 years - but until today it was not common on a commercial scale and certainly not on a consumer scale. Partly due to its dimensions and the amount of electrical current required to operate it.

But in the laboratory of the US National Standards Institute - the equivalent of the Israeli Standards Institute - a tiny atomic clock is now being developed. Its case has a volume of 9.5 cubic millimeters, about the size of a large grain of rice. The level of accuracy of this clock will be: deviation of one second for 126 years.

The tiny atomic clock can be integrated into a computer chip, using the production methods that exist today in the micro-electro-mechanical systems industry, and therefore have the potential to be mass-produced. These watches will be integrated into other electronic systems.

The tiny atomic clock - according to the scientific journal "Applied Physics Letters" - requires only 73 milliwatts of electricity to run - like a quartz crystal oscillator. But it is a big step forward to integrate an atomic watch that receives its electricity from a small battery and then it can be worn on the wrist.

One of the most important uses for such an accessory: in a satellite tracking and navigation system, the GPS used by missiles, and also in radio receivers and even cell phones. When a particularly high level of accuracy is achieved in determining the time, the time - a high level is achieved, improved beyond recognition of secure communication even for transferring computer data at high speed.

The tiny atomic clock is based on a cell of cesium vapor - a radioactive material - a semiconductor laser, a photo sensor, a lens and a filter. It measures the vibration and frequency of the cesium atoms - 9,192,631,770 (ie over 9.1 billion) cycles per second.

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