Thorsten Schumm is coordinator of a new Horizon 2020 FET-Open project on nuclear clocks
15. Apr 2015
Atomic clocks are the most accurate measurement devices by far, they only win or loose a second after millions of years.
A European consortium, initiated and coordinated by Thorsten Schumm and Simon Stellmer at TU Wien aims to even further increase the accuracy of clocks, by using quantum states of the atomic nucleus, instead of transitions in the electron shell of atoms. Such a “nuclear clock” promises to outperform all existing atomic clock schemes. Furthermore, it might be more robust, portable and inert to external perturbations.
The most promising candidate for such a nuclear clock is the Thorium-229 isotope which provides the lowest energy nuclear transition that is currently known. This isotope is extremely rare and precious, it has to be produced artificially, there are only a few grams available on earth.
European efforts around Thorium-229 will now be bundled and coordinated in a Horizon2020 Future Emerging Technologies project “nuClock”. The 8 participating partners bring together university research institutions (TU Wien, University of Heidelberg, LMU Munich), national research centres (Max-Planck Institutes for Nuclear Physics and Quantum Optics), large-scale facilities (IGISOL, University of Jyväskyla) national metrology institutions (PTB) and companies (Toptica Photonics).
The European Union is supporting this research with a total of 4 Million Euros. In the first round 24 projects have been selected out of 643 applications (3.7% success rate two of them in Austria.