Devices worldwide use GPS for wayfinding. This is done through atomic clocks, which are famous for their exact timekeeping. They keep the network of satellites in perfect sync, making it possible for different devices to use GPS. However, GPS signals come with inherent setbacks; they can be easily jammed or spoofed. Further, the navigation system can also be disabled within commercial and military problems, creating an inconsistent network.
Now researchers have designed a compact device that could help introduce the next generation of navigation systems. The development could revolutionize the Car Navigation System as it is a first-of-its-kind small, energy-efficient, and dependable enough to potentially move quantum sensors. Quantum sensors refer to those that apply quantum mechanics to supersede the work of traditional technologies, thereby bringing techniques from the lab into commercial use.
The team’s goal was to develop a way so that vehicles would not rely on satellites in the future to track their position. Instead, they could accomplish it through an onboard device that is equally accurate to an atomic clock. Further, the device might theoretically monitor acceleration and rotation by shining lasers into tiny clouds of rubidium gas.
It was demonstrated in the study that quantum sensing could work without the need for a high-powered vacuum system. This results in reducing the package size to a practical one without eliminating the element of reliability.
The researchers used a pair of devices called ‘getters’ that employ chemical reactions to bind intruders. The devices substituted a powered vacuum pump, which removes molecules responsible for wrecking measurements by leaking in. Both getters are the size of a pencil eraser and may be readily inserted into the pair of narrow tubes that protrude from the titanium box. The best thing about the devices is that they work without a power source.
To further protect the device from contamination, the chamber was built out of sapphire ad titanium. These materials are beneficial for restricting gasses like helium from coming in as they can penetrate the Pyrex glass and stainless steel.
All the construction done was accomplished with the help of complex fabrication techniques. The team later honed to bond with the advanced materials for the nuclear weapons part. And similar to atomic weapons, the titanium chamber also works with extreme reliability for years to come.
The researchers are putting efforts to continue to monitor the device. They aim to keep them sealed and operational for the coming five years, which is an essential obstacle before it is proved that the technology is ready for the real world. During this time, the team has also decided to explore new ways for streamlining the manufacturing process.
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