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16 July 2020

The future of time determination: A film about optical clocks

The typical oscillation frequency of an optical transition is about 100.000 times higher than a microwave transition.

Similar to a length measurement with a fine scale rather than a coarse scale, time measurements counting those fast optical oscillations can be orders of magnitude more precise than the atomic clock technology using microwave transitions.

Caption: Screenshot from a film about optical clocks

Menlo Systems' complete laser system FC1500-Quantum, consisting of cw lasers referenced to an ultra-stable optical frequency comb, is a crucial element for the commercial use of the optical clock technology. The complete, rack-mounted system provides the ultrastable clock laser, as well as all required cw lasers for preparing and reading out the clock transition.

The optical frequency comb allows for transferring the fast optical oscillations into a measurable signal without limiting the clock precision during the readout process. With an unprecedented 10-19 frequency uncertainty throughout its entire spectral range Menlo System's FC1500-250-ULN is the first clockwork that guarantees highest precision standards for today’s most demanding applications including optical clocks.

Our new film with YouTuber Doktor Whatson describes the technology of the Physikalisch Technischen Bundesanstalt (PTB), Germany, defining our universal time, and how a redefinition of the SI second based on optical clocks will eventually influence our lives.

The film is accessible through the Menlo Systems website or via our YouTube channel on


About OIDA

OSA Industry Development Associates (OIDA), operated as a division of The Optical Society (OSA), serves and represents organizations engaged in the business of optics and photonics—from start-ups to Fortune 500s. In support of its member companies, OIDA promotes and protects the business of optics and photonics in driving innovation, creating jobs, and accelerating growth in the U.S. and around the world. OIDA provides exclusive roadmap reports and market data for the industry, serves as the voice of the industry to government and academia, acts as a liaison with several trade associations worldwide and provides a network for the exchange of ideas and information within the optics and photonics community.

About Menlo Systems:

Precision in Photonics. Together we shape light.

Menlo Systems GmbH is a leading developer and global supplier of instrumentation for high-precision metrology. The company with headquarters in Martinsried near Munich is known for its Nobel Prize winning optical frequency comb technology. With subsidiaries in the US and China and a global distributor network, Menlo Systems is closely connected to its customers from science and industry. The main product lines are optical frequency combs, time and frequency distribution, terahertz systems, ultrafast and ultrastable lasers, and corresponding control electronics. Besides standard production, Menlo Systems develops and manufactures custom made solutions for laser-based precision measurements.


Media Contact

Menlo Systems GmbH

AM Klopferspitz 19a

8215 Martinsried, Germany

Phone: +49 89 189166 0

Fax:  +49 89 189166 111