back to article DARPA wants microscopic atom clocks on chips

Pentagon boffinry chiefs have announced that they'd like a very small, super-accurate atomic clock, so small that one day you might build it on a chip. Apparently, they would like to mount these nano superclocks inside the heads of their planned spy legion of brainchipped cyborg zombie insects. The Chip-Scale Atomic Clock ( …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Metrology is..

    The science of taking measurements. We engineers do lots of it.

    Metrology Equipment covers everything from a plastic rule to an electron microscope.

    I'm sure DARPA is thinking of difficult projects just to justify themselves and their funding.

  2. Kenneth Chan
    Thumb Up

    Might acutally work!

    And useful as well. Now where is my robot butler?

  3. Nate

    ...where dreams come true.

    "Assuming that you dream of hypersonic spaceplanes, portable rayguns, mighty globe-roaming Z-wing stratocruisers, invincible semi-intelligent battle computers and things of that sort, anyway."

    Who _doesn't_ dream of that stuff?

  4. Alistair

    Plans for global domination

    Were thwarted by the headlights of an oncoming car.

    Why no bugsplat icon??

  5. Rich Silver badge

    PC clocks

    I'd be happy with a PC clock that is more accurate than the usual +/-3 minutes/day!!

    Why ARE PC clocks still so bloody inaccurate?

  6. Alex

    Stern Gerlach

    You've made one physicist laugh today :) miniaturised Stern-Gerlach apparatus indeed!

    Mines the one with the Z-pinch in the pocket

  7. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    PC clocks are inaccurate to save money

    Quartz crystals are good at doing about 1 to 40MHz. PC clocks go at 32KHz to reduce power and hence the cost of the backup battery. The frequency of quartz crystals varies with temperature, some more than others. You get what you pay for. The crystal circuit also includes the PCB, a few capacitors an a chip. Variations in these components add a small error to frequency. Many years ago, that was fixed by adding a small variable capacitor, but that costs some money to add, and more to set correctly.

    If you want you PC to know the right time, use some network time protocol software.

    Still looking for a clock that reads either: "Yes, there is time." or "No, there isn't."

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Chip-Scale Atomic Clock is a farce

    The first thing to say is how misleading the hype is on size & accuracy of Chip-Scale Atomic Clocks. The players in this field always photograph the unpackaged devices because they look small. But to thermally stabilize them, the vacuum packaging they require is pretty large. Second, there are tricks with thermally stabilized multi-mode quartz oscillators & contactless packaging that get you "atomic clock" accuracy in that technology for a fraction of the cost, power consumption & size.

  9. Jason Harvey

    insect control

    always makes me think of the movie "The Fifth Element"

    mines the one with the joystick and headset in the pockets

  10. Daniel B.

    Nano-clock uses?

    Hm... that might be of good use when kidnapped, as you now can keep track of time, or get a nice "in eye" nano display showing date and time, a la Neuromancer.

    Mine's the one made out of nanobots.

  11. Chris G

    Ha ha

    It's easy to laugh at the boffins of DARPA but have you ever wondered at the sometimes irrational things the British government do? Roswell controlled cyborgs the lot of them! Brings a new meaning to having had ones' chips.

  12. Kenneth Chan

    @ Chip-Scale Atomic Clock is a farce

    DARPA is looking for a primary frequency standard in a 5cc volume, so yea, they are looking for an atomic clock. Unless you can calculate from first principles the vibration frequency of a hunk of quartz.

  13. Mike


    "DARPA is looking for a primary frequency standard in a 5cc volume"

    Imagines the size of moth needed to discreetly hide such a device...

    Holy $^&^%*(!

  14. ImaGnuber
    Thumb Up

    "in-bonce satnav"

    "an ultraminiaturised in-bonce satnav"

    Now why can't DARPA talk like that? Or politicians? I'd vote for anyone who said "an ultraminiaturised in-bonce satnav".

    Re above ref to Fifth Element... Ah Mila, Mila, Mila...

  15. Scott
    Paris Hilton

    girl's bathroom

    One of the key snags in handling an everyday cyborg zombie slave is that of knowing where the hell it is

    Probably in the girl's bathroom.

  16. SpitefulGOD
    Gates Halo

    Those Sick Barstools

    DARPA are obviously pissing around with time dilation using tiny wormholes.

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