For the first time, researchers have shown that a stable frequency reference can be reliably transmitted for more than 300 kilometers over a standard fiber optic telecommunications network in order to synchronize two radio telescopes.
In The Optical Society of America’s Optica journal, researchers from a consortium of Australian institutions recently reported this successful transmission between two radio telescopes using an optical fiber link. They also demonstrated that the technique’s performance was superior to using an atomic clock at each telescope.
Stable frequency references, used to calibrate clocks and instruments that make ultra-precise measurements, are usually only available at facilities that use expensive atomic clocks to generate the references. This new technology could help scientists anywhere to access the frequency standard by simply tapping into the telecommunications network.
This new technique required no substantial changes to the rest of the fiber optic network and was easy to implement. Most impressively, the demonstration was performed over a fiber optic network that was transmitting live telecommunications traffic at the same time. By running the experiment on optical fibers carrying normal traffic, the researchers showed that transmitting the stable frequency standard did not affect the data or telephone calls on other channels. Continue reading