Scientists operating from a lab at Oxford University are perfecting a system that will make it possible for atomic clocks to be integrated into future mobile phones and be used as GPS device, but this initiative for now requires utilizing the most expensive material on Earth – priced as £100m per gram, The Telegraph reports.
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The team behind the project, Carbon Materials, developed a material known as “endohedral fullerenes” which consists of a cage of carbon atoms made up of nitrogen atoms.
The material would be needed to produce a tiny but carry-able atomic clock which might turn out to be the most accurate time-piece worldwide; but it would also enable GPS navigation on autonomous vehicles to be accurate up to 1mm.
A nanomaterials scientist and founder of the project, 45-year-old Dr. Kyriakos Porfyrakis, has been perfecting knowledge to make the dream of the atomic clock a reality since 2001. “Imagine a minaturised atomic clock that you could carry around in your smartphone,” he said. “This is the next revolution for mobile.”
Diamond and graphene are examples of materials that contain carbon atoms, and the fullerene material is composed of 60 carbon atoms.
Oxford University funded the project with £75,000 in 2014 and Oxford Technology also added another £75,000 to it recently.
Lucius Cary, director of Oxford Technology SEIS fund declared that the size of atomic clocks at the moment is about the size of a room, but that the endohedral fullerene material would make it possible at some future time to be integrated into a chip that could be implanted into mobile phones and used for GPS trackers.
"There will be lots of applications for this technology," Cary said. "The most obvious is in controlling autonomous vehicles. If two cars are coming towards each other on a country lane, knowing where they are to within 2m is not enough but to 1mm it is enough. Every mobile phone could one day contain one of these things."