Itano, Wayne M. U.S. Department of Commerce, Time and Frequency Division, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Boulder, Colorado.
Last reviewed:July 2021
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- Basic principles
- Accuracy and stability
- Common types
- Cesium atomic-beam clock
- Hydrogen maser
- Rubidium gas cell
- Other types
- Radio astronomy
- Space exploration
- Fundamental science
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
A device that uses an internal resonance frequency of atoms (or molecules) to measure the passage of time. Atomic clocks (Fig. 1) are relied on internationally as the most accurate time and frequency standards with myriad uses in commerce, industry, and science. The terms "atomic clock" and "atomic frequency standard" are often used interchangeably. A frequency standard generates pulses at regular intervals. A frequency standard can be made into a clock by the addition of an electronic counter, which records the number of pulses. See also: Atom; Digital counter; Frequency counter; Molecule
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