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Science. 2004 Nov 19;306(5700):1318-24.

Standards of time and frequency at the outset of the 21st century.

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  • 1Time & Frequency Division, National Institute of Standards and Technology, 325 Broadway, Boulder, CO 80305, USA. sdiddams@boulder.nist.gov


After 50 years of development, microwave atomic clocks based on cesium have achieved fractional uncertainties below 1 part in 10(15), a level unequaled in all of metrology. The past 5 years have seen the accelerated development of optical atomic clocks, which may enable even greater improvements in timekeeping. Time and frequency standards with various levels of performance are ubiquitous in our society, with applications in many technological fields as well as in the continued exploration of the frontiers of basic science. We review state-of-the-art atomic time and frequency standards and discuss some of their uses in science and technology.

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