Strontium ion trap

Strontium ion trap

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Credit: ANDREW BROOKES, NATIONAL PHYSICAL LABORATORY/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Strontium ion trap. Electrodes on a strontium ion end-cap trap. This trap is part of a strontium optical clock, also known as a frequency standard, found at the National Physical Laboratory in Teddington, UK. The clock's strontium ions oscillate between two energy levels in response to the light of a laser beam. Counting these oscillations is the basis for the standard second. The current basis for the international definition of time is the caesium atomic clock, where one second is about 9193 million oscillations of caesium-133 atoms. The strontium optical clock is 100,000 faster than the caesium clock and is believed to be three times more accurate than anything previously achieved.

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