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Nat Commun. 2013;4:2109. doi: 10.1038/ncomms3109.

Experimental realization of an optical second with strontium lattice clocks.

Author information

LNE-SYRTE, CNRS, UPMC, Observatoire de Paris, 61 Avenue de l'Observatoire, 75014 Paris, France.

Erratum in

  • Nat Commun. 2013;4:2782.


Progress in realizing the SI second had multiple technological impacts and enabled further constraint of theoretical models in fundamental physics. Caesium microwave fountains, realizing best the second according to its current definition with a relative uncertainty of 2-4 × 10(-16), have already been overtaken by atomic clocks referenced to an optical transition, which are both more stable and more accurate. Here we present an important step in the direction of a possible new definition of the second. Our system of five clocks connects with an unprecedented consistency the optical and the microwave worlds. For the first time, two state-of-the-art strontium optical lattice clocks are proven to agree within their accuracy budget, with a total uncertainty of 1.5 × 10(-16). Their comparison with three independent caesium fountains shows a degree of accuracy now only limited by the best realizations of the microwave-defined second, at the level of 3.1 × 10(-16).


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