Researchers Use Portable Optical Clocks to Measure Gravitation

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Researchers from the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) and Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB), on February 12, 2018, successfully measured gravitation using a portable optical clock.

Earlier, laboratories had restricted the use of such optical clocks. The development of this optical clock made it possible to carry out measurements in this field. Using a vibration-damped and temperature-stabilized trailer, the portable clock was driven to the laboratory. This lab was operated by the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique and Grenoble-Alpes University.

By placing two different clocks at different locations, one in the lab and another at INRIM in Torino, the gravity potential difference was measured. These two locations had an altitude difference of 1,000m. An optical fiber link of length 150 km and a frequency comb were used for precise comparison of the two clocks. Conventional geodetic techniques were also used to determine the difference in gravity potential and both the measurements were found to be constant.

This method becomes advantageous as specific measurements can be made using this portable clock. Monitoring changes in the altitude of sea levels will be easier using this method. Geodynamic effects can be understood in a better way by using improved methods to measure gravity potential. Various levels of references considered by different countries to measure the Earth’s surface has caused many problems. Mistakes happening in engineering projects can be prevented to a large extent by obtaining stability between national height systems.

This height measuring method can provide inputs to forecast the effects of climate change by tracking the overall ocean mass changes. This method thus, helps monitor environmental changes, which is also possible by the application of chemical sensors, as elaborated in the Chemical Sensors Market report published by Coherent Market Insights.


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