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Does anyone have information on how exactly a atomic clock works?

  1. Sep 17, 2011 #1
    Does anyone have information on how exactly a atomic clock works?
    I have had advanced quantum mechanics courses so I am sure I wil understand it.
    My problem is that I can't find any descriptive materials (with drawings), the wikipedia page is very vague about the different things.
    So can anyone redirect me to online materials or books that explains atomic clocks?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 17, 2011 #2


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    Is http://www.nist.gov/pml/div688/grp50/primary-frequency-standards.cfm" [Broken]what you're looking for?
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  4. Oct 21, 2011 #3
    Yeah, thanks. But are there sources with more details?
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  5. Oct 21, 2011 #4


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    The basic physics of an atomic clock is very simply, the idea is to simp[ly measure the frequency of a transition as accurately as possible and that is about it. There are of course a lot of technical details but you don't need QM to understand those.

    There should be quite a few review papers and reports around. Have you tried looking for articles in say Review of Scientic Instruments?
    I am sure you can also find info in some Technical reports from NIST and -if you want all the details- papers in Metrologia.
  6. Oct 22, 2011 #5
    Thank you for your replies.
    I am looking into atomic clocks because I want to know how you can use atomic clocks to get a constraint on the variation of e.g. the fine-structure alpha.
  7. Oct 27, 2011 #6
    I can only find materials on how to measure the transition frequency accurately,
    But after you have measured a given transition frequency very accurately, do you then use this frequency to drive an (Rabi) oscillation of the atomic levels? I mean, what does an atomic clock consist of? How do you know how much time has passed?
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