Physics & Astronomy ETDs

Publication Date



This dissertation reports on the development of a low-power, high-stability miniature atomic frequency standard based on 171Yb+ ions. The ions are buffer-gas cooled and held in a linear quadrupole trap that is integrated into a sealed, getter-pumped vacuum package, and interrogated on the 12.6 GHz hyperfine transition. We hope to achieve a long-term fractional frequency stability of 10^−14 with this miniature clock while consuming only 50 mW of power and occupying a volume of 5 cm^3, as part of a project funded to rapidly develop an advanced miniaturized frequency standard that has exceptional long-term stability. I discuss our progress through several years of development on this project. We began by building a relatively conventional tabletop clock system to act as a 'test bed' for future components and for testing new techniques in a controlled environment. We moved on to develop and test several designs of miniature ion-trap vacuum packages, while also developing techniques for various aspects of the clock operation, including ion loading, laser and magnetic field stabilization, and a low power ion trap drive. The ion traps were modeled using boundary element software to assist with the design and parameter optimization of new trap geometries. We expect a novel trap geometry made using a material that is new to ion traps to lead to an exceptionally small ion trap vacuum package in the next phase of the project. To achieve the long-term stability required, we have also considered the sensitivity of the clock frequency to magnetic fields. A study of the motion of the individual ions in a room-temperature cloud in the trap was performed. The purpose of this simulation was to understand the effect of both spatially varying and constant magnetic fields on the clock resonance and therefore the operation of the clock. These effects were studied experimentally and theoretically for several traps. In summary, this dissertation is a contribution to the design, development, and testing of a 171Yb+ ion cloud frequency standard and related techniques, including analyses of trap geometries and parameters, modeling of the ion motion, and the practical operation of the clock.

Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

Physics & Astronomy

First Committee Member (Chair)

Deutsch, Ivan

Second Committee Member

Thomas, James




Atomic clocks, Atomic frequency standards, Magnetic traps, Logical clocks.

Document Type