ColdQuanta to Develop Portable Atomic Clocks for the Department of Defense

Next Generation of Portable Atomic Clocks to Provide Improved Performance, Stability & Durability for Department of Defense

ColdQuanta has been awarded a 5-year subcontract in response to an ONR Broad Area Announcement (BAA) to develop portable atomic clocks. ColdQuanta will serve as a subcontractor to Vescent, which secured the $15.6 million total award.

Under the Compact Rubidium Optical Clock (CROC) program, ColdQuanta will provide the physics package with development inputs from the Atomic Devices and Instrumentation Group at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The program commenced in November 2021 and will span three phases through 2026.

ColdQuanta is pleased to work alongside our partners to advance innovation for critical defense technologies used by the U.S. Navy,” said Chester Kennedy, President, Research and Security Solutions at ColdQuanta. “The CROC program demonstrates how ColdQuanta’s technology is evolving as the enabler of a broad ecosystem around quantum. By bringing all of the critical elements together, we can more rapidly bring the benefits of quantum technology to the world.”

As part of the CROC program, ColdQuanta and its partners will design, build, and deliver a new generation of high performance atomic clocks that are ready for field deployment at a high Technology Readiness Level (TRL). Specifically, the program will interrogate a two-photon optical clock transition in a warm vapor of rubidium (Rb) atoms to achieve improved stability and performance. The clocks will also offer reduced size, weight and power consumption.

ColdQuanta is participating in the project alongside Vescent, who will provide optical frequency comb technology, and Octave Photonics and the Quantum Nanophotonics Group at NIST which will supply crucial advances in non-linear nanophotonics. The outcome of the program will be 10 prototype field deployable optical clocks at or above TRL 6 that exhibit long-term instability to better than three parts in 100 trillion and offer >50% reduction in power consumption.

The CROC program will be conducted over three phases:

  • Phase 1: All critical technology elements will be advanced to TRL 6 and demonstrated in a modular clock
  • Phase 2: Engineering and verification efforts will integrate the individual components into prototype clocks
  • Phase 3: Manufacturing ten final prototype clocks for ONR evaluation in relevant platforms