Optocap Ltd - A company of Alter Technology TUV NORD SAU, has won funding that will enable Optocap and its partners to develop a miniature caesium atomic clock. The Kairos project, which has been awarded £4.5 million in research funding from Innovate-UK, was announced on the 9th of November at the 2018 National Quantum Technologies Showcase in London.
The Kairos consortium combines the capabilities of Teledyne e2v, Leonardo, Altran, Compound Semiconductor Centre, Integrated Compound Semiconductors, HCD Research, the University of York, and Cardiff University, with Optocap bringing their expertise in miniaturised and robust telecoms and space-qualified packaging techniques. This capability is a key enabler in liberating Quantum Technologies from the laboratory and driving them into real-world applications.
The Kairos project will develop a pre-production prototype of a miniature atomic clock for providing precise timing to a variety of critical infrastructure services, such as reliable energy supply, safe transport links, 5G mobile communications, data networks and electronic financial transactions.
The precise measurement of time is fundamental to the effective functioning of these services, which currently rely on Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) for a timing signal. However, GNSS signals are easily disrupted either accidentally or maliciously, and in prolonged GNSS unavailability, these critical services stop functioning. The reliance on GNSS for precision timing, and the consequent vulnerability of our essential services prompted Innovate-UK to commission a report published by London Economics in June 2017. It estimated the impact on the UK economy of a five day GNSS outage at £5.2B. That message is becoming widely understood and is creating a demand for timing solutions that are not GNSS dependent.
The next generation miniature atomic clock arising from the Kairos project fulfils this need and will find widespread application in precision timing for mobile base stations, network servers for financial services, data centres, national power distribution networks and air traffic control systems. Further applications arise in areas where an independent timing reference is needed on mobile platforms and especially in areas where no GNSS signal is available. A high performance compact clock would benefit a range of useful capabilities, addressing civil and military applications, bringing both technical and economic gains for the UK.
Optocap is a technology oriented company active in the field of optoelectronics, microelectronics and MEMS packaging design and assembly services. Its turn-key packaging services enable its customers to reduce development and manufacturing costs, accelerate time to market and reduce risk with new product developments. Optocap works in a wide variety of industrial sectors for which quality and reliability is a must along with an efficient supply chain.