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A quantum network of clocks

Nature Physics volume 10, pages 582587 (2014) | Download Citation

Abstract

The development of precise atomic clocks plays an increasingly important role in modern society. Shared timing information constitutes a key resource for navigation with a direct correspondence between timing accuracy and precision in applications such as the Global Positioning System. By combining precision metrology and quantum networks, we propose a quantum, cooperative protocol for operating a network of geographically remote optical atomic clocks. Using nonlocal entangled states, we demonstrate an optimal utilization of global resources, and show that such a network can be operated near the fundamental precision limit set by quantum theory. Furthermore, the internal structure of the network, combined with quantum communication techniques, guarantees security both from internal and external threats. Realization of such a global quantum network of clocks may allow construction of a real-time single international time scale (world clock) with unprecedented stability and accuracy.

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Acknowledgements

We are grateful to T. Rosenband, V. Vuletić, J. Borregaard and T. Nicholson for enlightening discussions. This work was supported by NSF, CUA, ITAMP, HQOC, JILA PFC, NIST, DARPA QuASAR and Quiness programs, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Packard Foundation, ARO MURI, and the ERC grant QIOS (grant no. 306576); M.B. acknowledges support from NDSEG and NSF GRFP. It is dedicated to R. Blatt and P. Zoller on the occasion of their 60th birthday, when initial ideas for this work were formed.

Author information

Author notes

    • P. Kómár
    •  & E. M. Kessler

    These authors contributed equally to this work.

Affiliations

  1. Physics Department, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA

    • P. Kómár
    • , E. M. Kessler
    •  & M. D. Lukin
  2. ITAMP, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA

    • E. M. Kessler
  3. JILA, NIST, Department of Physics, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado 80309, USA

    • M. Bishof
    •  & J. Ye
  4. Department of Applied Physics, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut 06511, USA

    • L. Jiang
  5. QUANTOP, Danish National Research Foundation Centre of Quantum Optics, Niels Bohr Institute, DK-2100 Copenhagen, Denmark

    • A. S. Sørensen

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Contributions

All authors contributed extensively to the work presented in this paper.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to M. D. Lukin.

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https://doi.org/10.1038/nphys3000