The Frequency and Quantum Metrology Laboratory

The Frequency and Quantum Metrology Laboratory (FQM) research group has two laboratories associated with the Centre.

The first led by CI Michael Tobar, are world leaders in precision measurement, low temperature physics and hybrid quantum systems. They have a long history of research in precision measurement, materials characterisation, electron spin and spin wave resonance spectroscopy, novel ultra-high Q-factor resonators and sensors, and the development of frequency stable, low phase noise instruments with world-class precision and performance. One such device, the Cryogenic Sapphire Oscillator, is now found in metrological laboratories around the globe, and has allowed atomic fountain clock technology to reach its ultimate performance, as well as being used in some of the most precise tests of fundamental physics ever performed. The group’s research has also led to a number of practical technologies that have been successfully patented and commercialised.

The lab offers access to two 4 K pulse-tube cryogenic systems, one 30 K system, three BlueFors cryogen-free dilution refrigerator capable of reaching sub 10 mK and a large 7 and 14 Tesla magnets.  The lab is also well equipped with many sophisticated microwave diagnostic technologies such network analysers, synthesizers, and spectrum analysers from RF to millimetre wave frequencies. The laboratory possesses a hydrogen maser which is distributed as a frequency reference in addition to several Cryogenic Sapphire Oscillators developed in-house that allow microwave signals to be synthesized with frequency stability of better than 1 part in 1000 trillion.  

CI McFerran lab is expert in atomic clock technology, including laser frequency control, atomic control with lasers and magnetic fields (e.g. laser cooling), electronic designs, optical designs, optoelectronic control systems and optical frequency synthesis. The lab offers a cold-atom clock with (20μK) Yb atoms.   A range of visible and near infrared lasers for laser cooling and atom interactions.  An ultra-stable laser for probing the Yb clock transition.  A multi-branch frequency comb for measuring (and disseminating) the clock transition frequency and auxiliary laser frequencies.  The hydrogen maser provides a frequency reference for the comb.    
The FQM laboratories also maintain equipment for the comparison of clocks with NMI in Sydney over GPS Carrier Phase and Two-way Satellite technology.

Last updated 20 November 2017
Last reviewed 7 July 2015

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Major funding support

Australian Research Council