Defence to benefit from World’s most precise clock

University of Adelaide researchers will develop the world’s most precise clock so that it can boost a key defence asset that safeguards Australia.

The University’s Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing (IPAS) has been awarded a $2 million contract under the Australian Government’s Capability and Technology Demonstrator (CTD) program to adapt and develop its Sapphire Clock as part of the Jindalee Operational Radar Network (JORN) upgrade.

The Sapphire Clock is the culmination of 15 years of investment in leading-edge fundamental research. It can now deliver signals that are more than 100 times more precise than any competing technology.

“The clock is so good its performance means it only loses or gains one second every 40 million years,” says Professor Andre Luiten, Director of IPAS.

“These highly pure signals can be used to provide a revolutionary leap in the performance of many different types of advanced electronic systems.”

The Sapphire Clock is being developed in the same city that developed one of the most advanced radars ever constructed: the Jindalee Over-The-Horizon radar.

The precision of the Sapphire Clock will now be used to improve overall detection of targets by JORN.

“This radar is critical to safeguarding Australia by monitoring the northern approaches. The unique combination of leading university and defence technologies can build much improved performance,” says Associate Professor Martin O’Connor, the lead researcher on the project.

The CTD program funding was announced this week by Minister for Defence Industry, the Hon. Christopher Pyne.

The program supports Australian industry and universities to research and develop innovative technologies that have great potential for Defence applications.

“I am incredibly happy to see that the fruits of fundamental university research are now going to make a difference to all Australians by making us that little bit safer,” Professor Luiten says.