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Towards a nuclear clock with Thorium-229

Total Cost €


EC-Contrib. €






Project "nuClock" data sheet

The following table provides information about the project.


Organization address
address: KARLSPLATZ 13
city: WIEN
postcode: 1040

contact info
title: n.a.
name: n.a.
surname: n.a.
function: n.a.
email: n.a.
telephone: n.a.
fax: n.a.

 Coordinator Country Austria [AT]
 Project website
 Total cost 3˙970˙327 €
 EC max contribution 3˙970˙327 € (100%)
 Programme 1. H2020-EU.1.2.1. (FET Open)
 Code Call H2020-FETOPEN-2014-2015-RIA
 Funding Scheme RIA
 Starting year 2015
 Duration (year-month-day) from 2015-06-01   to  2019-05-31


Take a look of project's partnership.

# participants  country  role  EC contrib. [€] 
1    TECHNISCHE UNIVERSITAET WIEN AT (WIEN) coordinator 900˙000.00
2    TOPTICA PHOTONICS AG DE (GRAEFELFING) participant 943˙750.00
7    JYVASKYLAN YLIOPISTO FI (JYVASKYLA) participant 247˙827.00


 Project objective

Atomic clocks are the backbone of our modern communication and navigation technology, e.g. through the global positioning system (GPS). Improving these clocks will open up exciting new applications in geodesy, fleet tracking, autonomous vehicles, augmented reality and shed light on some of the most fundamental questions in research.

Today’s best atomic clocks lose only 1 second in 30 billion years, making them the most precise measurement devices ever built. However, such clocks are extremely delicate and susceptible to external perturbations; they can only be operated in specialized laboratories.

We propose to develop a novel type of clock, based on a unique nuclear transition in Thorium-229. This nuclear clock will be fundamentally different from existing atomic clocks, which are based on transitions in the electron shell. It will be largely inert to perturbations, simpler by design, and holds the potential to outperform existing atomic clocks in terms of precision. So far, progress towards an application of the Thorium nuclear transition has been hampered by the extreme technological challenges related to the scarcity of 229Th, insufficient detector resolution, and exotic lasers frequencies. Suitable technology is only becoming available just now. Furthermore, this research demands supreme expertise in a variety of fields, encompassing nuclear and atomic physics, quantum optics, metrology, as well as detector- and laser technology. Our interdisciplinary consortium is assembled to precisely match these requirements, joining for the first time Europe’s leading research groups in the respective fields.

The work will focus on two objectives; (i) finding clear evidence of the transition and measuring its frequency, and (ii) developing all key components required for operation of a nuclear clock. We are certain that next-generation satellite-based navigation technology and other precision timing applications will greatly benefit from more precise and robust clocks.


List of deliverables.
VUV cw laser system Demonstrators, pilots, prototypes 2020-02-24 13:34:35
WP2 progress report 3 Documents, reports 2020-02-24 13:34:35
WP1 progress report 3 Documents, reports 2020-02-24 13:34:34
International conference Websites, patent fillings, videos etc. 2020-02-24 13:34:34
Progress report thorium samples Documents, reports 2020-02-24 13:34:34
Collective effects Documents, reports 2020-02-24 13:34:35
Check meeting 3 Documents, reports 2020-02-24 13:34:34
Data management plan Documents, reports 2020-02-24 13:34:32
Progress report uranium samples Documents, reports 2020-02-24 13:34:32
Portable detection unit Demonstrators, pilots, prototypes 2020-02-24 13:34:32
Image film Websites, patent fillings, videos etc. 2020-02-24 13:34:32
VUV comb evaluation Documents, reports 2020-02-24 13:34:31
WP1 progress report 1 Documents, reports 2020-02-24 13:34:32
Project webpage Websites, patent fillings, videos etc. 2020-02-24 13:34:32
Gamma spectroscopy Documents, reports 2020-02-24 13:34:32
WP2 progress report 2 Documents, reports 2020-02-24 13:34:33
WP2 progress report 1 Documents, reports 2020-02-24 13:34:32
WP1 progress report 2 Documents, reports 2020-02-24 13:34:33

Take a look to the deliverables list in detail:  detailed list of nuClock deliverables.


year authors and title journal last update
List of publications.
2019 Benedict Seiferle, Lars von der Wense, Pavlo V. Bilous, Ines Amersdorffer, Christoph Lemell, Florian Libisch, Simon Stellmer, Thorsten Schumm, Christoph E. Düllmann, Adriana Pálffy, Peter G. Thirolf
Energy of the 229Th nuclear clock transition
published pages: 243-246, ISSN: 0028-0836, DOI: 10.1038/s41586-019-1533-4
Nature 573/7773 2020-02-24
2019 Takahiko Masuda, Akihiro Yoshimi, Akira Fujieda, Hiroyuki Fujimoto, Hiromitsu Haba, Hideaki Hara, Takahiro Hiraki, Hiroyuki Kaino, Yoshitaka Kasamatsu, Shinji Kitao, Kenji Konashi, Yuki Miyamoto, Koichi Okai, Sho Okubo, Noboru Sasao, Makoto Seto, Thorsten Schumm, Yudai Shigekawa, Kenta Suzuki, Simon Stellmer, Kenji Tamasaku, Satoshi Uetake, Makoto Watanabe, Tsukasa Watanabe, Yuki Yasuda, Atsushi Y
X-ray pumping of the 229Th nuclear clock isomer
published pages: 238-242, ISSN: 0028-0836, DOI: 10.1038/s41586-019-1542-3
Nature 573/7773 2020-02-24
2019 Benedict Seiferle, Lars von der Wense, Ines Amersdorffer, Nicolas Arlt, Benjamin Kotulski, Peter G. Thirolf
Towards a precise determination of the excitation energy of the Thorium nuclear isomer using a magnetic bottle spectrometer
published pages: , ISSN: 0168-583X, DOI: 10.1016/j.nimb.2019.03.043
Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research Section B: Beam Interactions with Materials and Atoms 2020-02-24
2018 Robert A. Müller, Anna V. Maiorova, Stephan Fritzsche, Andrey V. Volotka, Randolf Beerwerth, Przemyslaw Glowacki, Johannes Thielking, David-Marcel Meier, Maksim Okhapkin, Ekkehard Peik, Andrey Surzhykov
Hyperfine interaction with the Th 229 nucleus and its low-lying isomeric state
published pages: , ISSN: 2469-9926, DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevA.98.020503
Physical Review A 98/2 2020-02-24
2018 Peter G. Thirolf, Benedict Seiferle, Lars der Wense
Improving Our Knowledge on the 229m Thorium Isomer: Toward a Test Bench for Time Variations of Fundamental Constants
published pages: 1800381, ISSN: 0003-3804, DOI: 10.1002/andp.201800381
Annalen der Physik 531/5 2020-02-24
2018 Pavlo V. Bilous, Nikolay Minkov, Adriana Pálffy
Electric quadrupole channel of the 7.8 eV Th 229 transition
published pages: , ISSN: 2469-9985, DOI: 10.1103/physrevc.97.044320
Physical Review C 97/4 2020-02-24
2019 D.-M. Meier, J. Thielking, P. Głowacki, M. V. Okhapkin, R. A. Müller, A. Surzhykov, E. Peik
Electronic level structure of Th + in the range of the Th 229 m
published pages: , ISSN: 2469-9926, DOI: 10.1103/physreva.99.052514
Physical Review A 99/5 2020-02-24
2019 Lars C. von der Wense, Benedict Seiferle, Christian Schneider, Justin Jeet, Ines Amersdorffer, Nicolas Arlt, Florian Zacherl, Raphael Haas, Dennis Renisch, Patrick Mosel, Philip Mosel, Milutin Kovacev, Uwe Morgner, Christoph E. Düllmann, Eric R. Hudson, Peter G. Thirolf
The concept of laser-based conversion electron Mössbauer spectroscopy for a precise energy determination of 229mTh
published pages: , ISSN: 0304-3843, DOI: 10.1007/s10751-019-1564-0
Hyperfine Interactions 240/1 2020-02-24
2019 Peter G. Thirolf, Benedict Seiferle, Lars von der Wense
The 229-thorium isomer: doorway to the road from the atomic clock to the nuclear clock
published pages: , ISSN: 0953-4075, DOI: 10.1088/1361-6455/ab29b8
Journal of Physics B: Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics 2020-02-24
2019 Lars von der Wense, Benedict Seiferle, Ines Amersdorffer, Peter G. Thirolf
Preparing an Isotopically Pure 229Th Ion Beam for Studies of 229mTh
published pages: , ISSN: 1940-087X, DOI: 10.3791/58516
Journal of Visualized Experiments 147 2020-02-24
2018 L. von der Wense, B. Seiferle, P. G. Thirolf
Towards a 229Th-Based Nuclear Clock
published pages: 1178-1192, ISSN: 0543-1972, DOI: 10.1007/s11018-018-1337-1
Measurement Techniques 60/12 2020-02-24
2019 Nikolay Minkov, Adriana Pálffy
Theoretical Predictions for the Magnetic Dipole Moment of Th 229 m
published pages: , ISSN: 0031-9007, DOI: 10.1103/physrevlett.122.162502
Physical Review Letters 122/16 2020-02-24
2019 J. Seres, E. Seres, C. Serrat, E. C. Young, J. S. Speck, T. Schumm
All-solid-state VUV frequency comb at 160 nm using high-harmonic generation in nonlinear femtosecond enhancement cavity
published pages: 6618, ISSN: 1094-4087, DOI: 10.1364/oe.27.006618
Optics Express 27/5 2020-02-24
2018 Brenden S. Nickerson, Wen-Te Liao, Adriana Pálffy
Collective effects in Th 229 -doped crystals
published pages: , ISSN: 2469-9926, DOI: 10.1103/physreva.98.062520
Physical Review A 98/6 2020-02-24
2018 M. S. Safronova, S. G. Porsev, M. G. Kozlov, J. Thielking, M. V. Okhapkin, P. Głowacki, D. M. Meier, E. Peik
Nuclear Charge Radii of Th 229 from Isotope and Isomer Shifts
published pages: , ISSN: 0031-9007, DOI: 10.1103/physrevlett.121.213001
Physical Review Letters 121/21 2020-02-24

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