Instrumentation and measurement

Cryoclock from Cryomech Inc

October 14, 2019

Precision time measurement is important in many industries. Generally, we might think of a race clock, a shot clock, or an oven timer as needing to be accurate. But what if it needs to be extremely precise? When it’s a matter of national security, scientific experiments, or perfecting the quantum computer precision takes on a whole new meaning. You need a clock so accurate that after 40 Million years it would only be off by a mere 1 second to produce the most accurate results. If you need something this precise you might want to look at the Cryogenic Sapphire Oscillator from Cryoclock.

This new Sapphire Clock would give radar systems a boost allowing them to see smaller objects at a greater distance. For example, it can provide greater strength to the Jindalee Operational Radar Network tracking planes and ships at a distance, providing additional security monitoring in and around Australia. The Clock allows the radar to track smaller objects, slower moving objects, and increases range of monitoring while increasing accuracy. The Sapphire Clock creates new possibilities in many different applications.

An incredible amount of study and research went into bringing this product to the commercial market. Around 25 years of dedication and work lead up to the success of this the moment where all the pieces fell into place. The heart of the clock is a man-made 1,200 carat sapphire which needed to be cryogenically cooled. Cooling the crystal down to 6 K (-277C/-466F) provides a stability to the resonance of the crystal when working in conjunction with an oscillator. Initially this cooling process was achieved with liquid helium. However, this required upkeep and the expense of refilling the helium after it boiled off.

Around 2010, Professor John Gideon Hartnett (of Cryoclock) realized that a cryocooler might be the solution he was looking for in perfecting the Sapphire Oscillator. It would eliminate the need to refill helium and enable a user to go for years without maintenance to the system. Cryomech was proud to provide a solution which enabled Cryoclock to bring their product to the commercial market. A PT407 Cryocooler with a Remote Motor provided the cooling power needed to produce the stability and reliability they were looking for. Not only that, they also saw improved performance of the oscillator when using a cryocooler.

This amazing innovation has led to several awards for the Cryoclock team. In 2018 they won the Australian Museum Eureka Prize in Defence Science and Technology Prize for Outstanding Science in Safeguarding Australia. This was followed up in 2019 when they were honored with two awards from the Avalon 2019 Innovation Awards.

We congratulate the Cryoclock team (Prof. Andre Luiten, Dr. John Hartnett, Asso. Prof. Martin O’Connor, Dr. Fred Baynes, Dr. Ori Henderson-sapir), Dr. Ka Wu) for their accomplishments. We can’t wait to see where we will find Cryoclock in the future. This will certainly be a company to keep an eye on! To learn more about the team and their work please visit their website at: https://www.cryoclock.com/