17 February 2011

Grant for Danish-Japanese research into atomic clocks

Physics student at the Niels Bohr Institute, Bjarke Takashi Røjle Christensen, who works in the research group Quantop and ultra cold atoms has been awarded 20,000 kroner from the Siemens Foundation for research into atomic clocks.

An atomic clock measures time by measuring the frequency of light waves from the energy transitions of various elements, which correspond to a swinging pendulum. An atomic clock is extremely accurate and it is now possible to measure time with a precision of 1016- part of a second.

Research into atomic clocks is being done around the world using various elements. At the Niels Bohr Institute the research is based on magnesium atoms. The Katori laboratory at the University of Tokyo has developed two different strontium based atomic clocks. At other locations in Japan they have developed ytterbium and mercury based atomic clocks.  .

What is best and how do we achieve the highest precision?

"In the long term it will possible to achieve further improvements in precision by combining the systems ", says Bjarke Takashi Røjle Christensen.

Bridge between Danish and Japanese research

But if you are going to start a scientific collaboration between two countries that lie on opposite sides of the globe – what about the geographic distances and distance between languages? Many professors and researchers in Japanese universities cannot communicate freely in English.

"Because I spent my childhood in Japan I can speak fluent Japanese, so I see this as a fantastic opportunity to build a bridge between Danish and Japanese research in my field ", explains Bjarke Takashi Røjle Christensen, who, as the name indicates, is half Danish and half Japanese.

He has now been accepted to participate in the research at the Katori laboratory in Tokyo, where, given the experimental conditions, he is convinced that he can achieve significant results in his work on his thesis. His stay in Japan will be 10 months.

The Siemens foundation donates funds primarily to research in scientific fields. The foundation is giving out approximately one million kroner in 2011 to 39 projects, including to four students at the University of Copenhagen.