Skip to Main Content
We describe the performance characteristics and frequency measurements of two high-accuracy high-stability laser-cooled atomic frequency standards. One is a 657-nm (456-THz) reference using magneto-optically trapped Ca atoms, and the other is a 282-nm (1064-THz) reference based on a single Hg/sup +/ ion confined in an RF-Paul trap. A femtosecond mode-locked laser combined with a nonlinear microstructure fiber produces a broad and stable comb of optical modes that is used to measure the frequencies of the reference lasers locked to the atomic standards. The measurement system is referenced to the primary frequency standard NIST F-1, a Cs atomic fountain clock. Both optical standards demonstrate exceptional short-term instability (/spl ap/5/spl times/10/sup -15/ at 1 s), as well as excellent reproducibility over time. In light of our expectations for the future of optical frequency standards, we consider the present performance of the femtosecond optical frequency comb, along with its limitations and future requirements.