How does an Atomic Time Clock Work

You may think that a digital clock such as clock software in a computer is the most accurate time device, but they are not. Your alarm clocks are not the most precise clocks either. It’s the atomic clock or atomic watch which is the most accurate clock of all. An atomic clock is not only the most accurate clock but the most important also. Without the atomic clock, GPS and the Internet would have trouble operating. It’s because online processes as well as GPS conversion are dependent on an atomic clock. Thee possible disruption alone can give you an idea that a big percentage of our online and offline living systems would be affected once an atomic clock becomes inaccurate.

But that inaccuracy will never happen. Scientists have already used a calculator to measure the accuracy of this clock. Through a calculator they also learned that for an atomic clock to stop working is nearly impossible - or even for it to slow down its ticking. In fact, scientists believe that it will take 10 million years before the atomic clock will be off by just one second.

That kind of accuracy is simply awesome. So, how does an atomic watch do work?

  1. An atomic clock measures the oscillations of an atom. This is similar to how a pendulum clock measures the swing of its pendulum.
  2. Cesium atoms, the usual composition of an atomic clock, are put in a copper tube. This copper tube is surrounded by eight laser beams. Four of these laser beams are perpendicular while two are placed at the right angle of each other. One laser beam is placed above while the other one is placed below the copper tube.
  3. The cesium atoms travel to the center of the copper tube once all the laser beams are turned on.
  4. When the cesium atoms are at the center, all the laser beams are turned off. Only the laser beam beneath the tube is turned on.
  5. That laser beam is repeatedly turning off and on. That action results in the cesium atoms’ up-and-down movement. The movement of the atoms can be likened to a fountain’s action. This action is possible because of the cavity emitted from the laser. The laser is firing up the atom at a rate of about 9,192,631,770 Hertz. The vibrating crystal ensures this rate.
  6. The up-and-down motion of the cesium atoms results in the atoms’ emitting of light. This process also makes the atom change its state, which is also measured.
  7. The number of cycles per second is started to be measured when the cesium atoms reach their optimum level. This affects the crystal oscillator and that starts the counting of true seconds. 

The atom clock’s accuracy is ensured through shielding it from any magnetic field of the Earth. It should also have a temperature near to absolute zero or that is -273 degrees Centigrade.

Today, the usefulness of the atomic clock will continue to benefit every human being. Computer clocks, digital clocks, or clock software can work with this accurate time-telling device. Why don’t you use this for your alarm clock? Maybe with an atomic clock, you won’t be late for your meetings. Well, you’ll be enjoying the most accurate time-telling system in the world if you do!


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