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NPL's atomic clock revealed to be most accurate in the world

Date: 06 Sep 2011

The atomic clock at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL), managed and operated by Serco, has been identified as the most accurate long-term timekeeper in the world. The caesium fountain clock that helps keep a standard international time would only lose or gain less than a second in some 138 million years.

The clock, known as 'NPL-CsF2', is used as the primary frequency standard for the measurement of time in the UK and contributes to International Atomic Time and Universal Coordinated Time - the worldwide timescales used for global communications, satellite navigation and time stamping of financial transactions.

NPL scientists and partners from Pennsylvania State University, USA, evaluated the clock with physical measurements and mathematical models and have published their results in the scientific journal Metrologia.

Krzysztof Szymaniec, the leader of the project at NPL, said: "The first atomic clock was demonstrated at NPL in 1955 and we have led research into providing ever more accurate time keeping since then. By combining our own measurement expertise with that of our colleagues at Penn State, we have shown that timekeeping at NPL continues to be some of the most advanced in the world. The achievement is not just about international bragging rights; better standards lead to better technology".

NPL is a world leader in the analysis of clock and time transfer data, and is making a key contribution to the development of the timing infrastructure of the Galileo satellite navigation system. Serco has operated NPL, the UK's National Measurement Institute under a Government Owned Contractor Operated model (GOCO) contract since 1995. It is our responsibility to maximise the positive impact of NPL's mission in science and technology, for business and government.

For more information, contact Serco:
Charles Carr
Communications Director, Serco Defence Science and Nuclear
Tel: +44 (0) 771 819 4381

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Last Updated: 06 Sep 2011