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- The uncertainty in the frequency of a linear-ion-trap frequency standard (LITS) can be reduced substantially by use of a very small magnetic inhomogeneity tailored to compensate for the residual second-order Doppler shift. An effect associated with the relativistic time dilatation, one cause of the second-order Doppler shift, is ion motion that is attributable to the trapping radio-frequency (RF)electromagnetic field used to trap ions. The second-order Doppler shift is reduced by using a multi-pole trap; however it is still the largest source of systematic frequency shift in the latest generation of LITSs, which are among the most stable clocks in the world. The present compensation scheme reduces the frequency instability of the affected LITS to about a tenth of its previous value. The basic principles of prior generation LITSs were discussed in several prior NASA Tech Briefs articles. Below are recapitulated only those items of basic information necessary to place the present development in context. A LITS includes a microwave local oscillator, the frequency of which is stabilized by comparison with the frequency of the ground state hyperfine transition of 199Hg+ ions. The comparison involves a combination of optical and microwave excitation and interrogation of the ions in a linear ion trap in the presence of a nominally uniform magnetic field. In the current version of the LITS, there are two connected traps (see figure): (1) a quadrupole trap wherein the optical excitation and measurement take place and (2) a 12-pole trap (denoted the resonance trap), wherein the microwave interrogation takes place. The ions are initially loaded into the quadrupole trap and are thereafter shuttled between the two traps. Shuttling ions into the resonance trap allows sensitive microwave interrogation to take place well away from loading interference. The axial magnetic field for the resonance trap is generated by an electric current in a finely wound wire coil surrounded by magnetic shields. In the quadrupole and 12-pole traps, the potentials are produced by RF voltages applied to even numbers (4 and 12, respectively) of parallel rods equally spaced around a circle. The polarity of the voltage on each rod is opposite that of the voltage on the adjacent rod. As a result, the amplitude of the RF trapping field is zero along the centerline and increases, with radius, to a maximum value near the rods.
- NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS) Collection.
- Document ID: 20090020488.
NASA Tech Briefs, March 2008; 23-24.
- Copyright, Distribution as joint owner in the copyright.
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