Chip Scale Atomic Clock gives quartz oscillators the boot

Attention all quartz-based oscillators: There’s a new oscillator in town, boasting the accuracy, SWaP, and reduced power consumption of atomic clock technology. Indeed, Symmetricom’s QUANTUM SA.45s Chip Scale Atomic Clock (CSAC) reportedly renders two orders of magnitude better timekeeping than its quartz predecessors including Temperature Compensated Crystal Oscillators (TCXOs) and Oven-Controlled Crystal Oscillators (OCXOs): less than 0.1 seconds’ error during a human lifespan. The atomic QUANTUM SA.45s CSAC weighs a miniscule 35 grams, has a volume of 16 cc, and consumes only 115 mW power, which the company says is “1/40th or less the power consumption of existing atomic oscillators.” Highly suited to underwater exploration and portable applications where continuous receipt of GPS signals is impossible, this CSAC’s main mission is to provide timing stability and fast signal reacquisition. It can be tucked inside man-pack radios, UAVs, geophysical sensors, dismounted IED jammers, and GPS units themselves. Though Symmetricom’s military-savvy “Option 002” variant operates at -40 °C to +85 °C, the company also vends an “Option 002” commercial-application flavor, affording an operating temp of -10 °C to + 70 °C. Interestingly, the CSAC program was originally DARPA initiated.