US technology company OEwaves will design a new all-optical atomic clock (AO-IMPAC) smaller than any clock in current use for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) under the first phase of a three-phase contract.

AO-IMPAC will aid a range of metrological, communications and navigation applications in the defence and commercial space.

Apart from size, OEwaves will reduce weight and power over primary time and frequency standards using its simplified microwave photonic technology.

IMPAC will be based on a novel technology patented by the company.

The $8m IMPAC project is one of the ‘DARPA hard’ programmes for miniaturisation of a high-performance atomic clock.