New caesium atomic clock provides autonomous precise time for months

16-06-2023 | Microchip Technology | Test & Measurement

Microchip Technology has released the 5071B caesium atomic clock that can perform autonomous timekeeping for months in the event of GNSS denials.

The company's new atomic clock is the next-generation commercial caesium clock to the existing 5071A, which has been the primary contributor to international time for over three decades. The 5071B is obtainable in a three-unit height (3U) 19" rackmount enclosure. It provides a compact product to work in environments where it can be readily transported and secured versus a larger alternative designed especially for laboratory environments.

The clock has upgraded electronic components to manage possible obsolescence or non-RoHS circuitry. The product provides 100ns holdover for over two months, maintaining system synchronisation when GNSS signals such as GPS are denied. For example, this capability would facilitate a 5G network to remain fully operational for months without GNSS.

"The 5071A has been the world's premier time and frequency standard for decades. With the upgraded 5071B, Microchip continues its position as the industry leader in complex timing solutions," said Randy Brudzinski, vice president, Microchip's frequency and time systems business unit. "Our customers can rely on the 5071 B's technology for years to come and implement a timing and frequency solution with confidence in continuity of supply and modern components, which eliminates obsolescence concerns."

As a caesium beam tube product with no deterministic long-term frequency drift, it provides absolute frequency accuracy of 5E-13 or 500 quadrillionths over all specified environmental conditions for the product's life.

For defence applications needing rapid deployments for system radars, 5E-13 stability eradicates the necessity for acquiring external synchronisation sources before radiating. In satellite communications, this allows the user to broadcast and transmit over very small frequency bands without drifting out of band for the whole duration of the product.

A product like this could maintain and better synchronise the critical communication between an aircraft and control tower when deployed. Air traffic control in the US employs ADS-B and WAM to locate the aircraft's position across the nation's airspace. The clock's stability allows more accurate locations and continued operation during GNSS outages.

The clock is now fully compliant with the RoHS, making this product available in regions with regulatory policies.

The 5071B caesium atomic clock is supported by Clockstudio Software Tool to control and monitor data.

By Seb Springall