What’s a nanosecond between friends?

Brought to you by The Location Group

An event to review the state-of-the-art in clocks from the highest precision scientific devices to timing applications driven by cost and power. What is the implication of time on technology's future?

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About the event

Robust time and synchronisation play major roles in positioning, from the high accuracy and precision required by GNSS satellites and LiDAR to radar, cellular positioning technologies and ultrasound ranging.

In the cellular world, successive technology generations have demanded stricter synchronisation amongst network entities. Maintaining accurate time to the edges of networks is one challenge, as is robust distribution in a network that may contain unknown or variable delays and attack threats is another.

Demands from financial services, broadcasting and power transmission are also challenging.
With the introduction of 5G imminent and connected autonomous vehicles on the horizon, how will the requirements for time accuracy and availability change?

We shall explore the implications of technological advances given by the exceptionally high accuracy of quantum and optical lattice clocks. We will also look at trade-offs between performance and size, weight, power, cost, robustness and environmental tolerances, including, for example, MEMS and graphene oscillators.

This event is kindly hosted by the National Physical Laboratory (NPL). The event is delivered by The CW Location SIG in partnership with The KTN and supported by UK5G

You can follow @CambWireless on Twitter and tweet about this event using #CWLocation.

Hosted by National Physical Laboratory

Founded by the Royal Society in 1st January 1900, NPL is one of the UK's leading science and research facilities

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In partnership with KTN

The KTN is the UK'S innovation network. Connecting for Positive Change

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Supported by UK5G

The national innovation network dedicated to the promotion of research, collaboration and the commercial application of 5G in the UK.

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The information supplied below may be subject to change before the event.


Registration and networking with refreshments


A welcome from our host, National Physical Laboratory (NPL), from Dr Leon Lobo


Introduction to CW Simon Mead, CEO, Cambridge Wireless


A word from our event supporter UK5G, Robert Driver, UK5G


Dr. Ying Lia Li, Physicist & entrepreneur, University College London

'Inertial sensing using cavity optomechanics'

In this talk I will discuss microcavities supporting optical whispering gallery mode resonances (WGMs) which exhibit an extreme sensitivity to the cavity motion. This optomechanical coupling alters the WGM linewidth and frequency, even when the cavity is displaced by picometers. By attaching the microresonator to a cantilever, we have created an accelerometer with high-linearity and strong optomechanical coupling to obtain micro-g (g=9.81 ms^(-2)) sensitivity, suitable for navigation or vibration sensing. After field-testing a portable WGM accelerometer prototype on a vehicle sustaining car-crash like shocks, we are now progressing with a chip-scale version using semiconductor fabrication methods with the inclusion of a WGM gyroscope.


Professor Ashwin Seshia, Cambridge University Engineering Department

'High-performance MEMS oscillators for timing and inertial measurement systems'

Abstract: This talk will describe research results underpinning high-Q silicon MEMS oscillators for low-power miniature clocks and as building blocks in high-performance inertial sensors. Quality factors approaching 10 million at room temperature and short-term stabilities under 0.4 ppb have been demonstrated, and excellent long-term stabilities can be achieved through suitable packaging, and temperature compensation and oven control schemes. Further, nonlinear effects can be harnessed to provide additional features and benefits beyond those achievable using conventional crystal oscillator technologies.


Professor Kai Bongs, School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Birmingham & UK National Quantum Technology Hub in Sensors & Metrology

‘Ultra-precise timing applications’

Professor Bongs will be introducing the timing program of the UK National Quantum Technology Hub in Sensors and Timing. He will in particular discuss applications for optical clocks, from reference time provision in navigation to low phase noise oscillators for radar and distributed radar.


Networking lunch


A word from our event partner Bob Cockshott, The KTN


Patrick Gill, Co-Director, NPL Quantum Metrology Institute, National Physical Laboratory

'Timing and Synchronisation with Atomic Clocks'

Patrick will discuss the various atomic clock and timing systems under development at NPL, and routes to high accuracy dissemination to end users in science, technology and industry.


John Haine, University of Bristol (Communication Systems & Networks Research Group)

'A feasibility study of using pulsars as a back-up time distribution system’

Presented by John Haine on behalf of the CDT in Communications 2018/19 year 1 cohort at Bristol University.


Dr Chris Marshall, Senior Principal Engineer, u-blox UK

‘Timing for Internet of Things applications’

Chris will explore the timing needs of IoT applications, breaking them down into requirements for relative and for absolute timing. He will then discuss how these might be met - particularly in wireless connected devices.


Concluding remarks


Networking over refreshments & event closes


Kai Bongs - Professor, University of Birmingham

Professor Kai Bongs is Director of the UK Quantum Technology Hub for Sensors and Metrology, where he drives the translation of gravity sensors and ultra-precise clocks into technology and applications in climate, communications, energy, transport and urban development. He also leads the Midlands Ultracold Atom Research Centre at the University of Birmingham. His work has been disseminated through both invited and peer-reviewed presentations at international conferences and through high-impact publications (125 in total). His work has been cited over 7500 times and has a h-index of 40. Professor Bongs obtained his PhD from the University of Hannover in 1999 on creating a Bose-Einstein condensate and developing and testing atom optical techniques for its manipulation. He supplemented this work by realising the dark solitons in Bose-Einstein condensates during a one-year postdoctoral post. After this, he studied atom interferometry during a postdoctoral stay in the group of Professor Kasevich at Yale University in 2000, where he initiated a programme to develop a mobile gravity gradient sensor and an electron guide. In 2002, Professor Bongs led the atom optics division in the group of Professor Sengstock at Hamburg University. His research focus shifted to quantum gas mixtures (both Fermi-Bose mixtures and Spin mixtures). Professor Bongs is Editor-in-Chief for the European Physical Journal - Quantum Technologies and UK representative on the Quantum Community Network of the European Quantum Flagship initiative. He won a Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Fellow and is a Fellow of the Institute of Physics and the Institution of Engineering and Technology.

Patrick Gill - Co-Director, NPL Quantum Metrology Institute, National Physical Laboratory

Patrick Gill is a Senior NPL Fellow and co-Director of the NPL Quantum Metrology Institute, and heads up NPL Time & Frequency, where he is concerned with research into quantum frequency standards and atomic clocks and metrology, with wider application to fundamental physics, space science, satellite navigation and Earth observation, telecommunications, aerospace and defence.

Patrick joined NPL in 1975 after completing his DPhil thesis at the University of Oxford. He is a visiting professor at Imperial College and at the University of Oxford. He was awarded the Rabi Award by the IEEE International Frequency Control Symposium in 2007, and won the IOP 2008 Young Medal and Prize. His team received the 2014 Duke of Edinburgh award from the Royal Institute of Navigation for long term atomic clock development. Patrick was awarded an MBE for services to Science in The Queen's New Year's Honours List 2015. He was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2016. 

John Haine - Visiting Professor, University of Bristol (Communication Systems & Networks Research Group)

John Haine has spent his career in the electronics and communications industry, working for large corporations and with four Cambridge start-ups. His technical background includes R&D in radio circuitry and microwave circuit theory; and the design of novel radio systems for cordless telephony, mobile data, fixed wireless access and IoT communications. He has led standardisation activities in mobile data and FWA in ETSI, and contributed to WiMax in IEEE. At various times he has been involved in and led fund-raising and M&A activities. In 1999 he joined TTP Communications working on research, technology strategy and M&A; and after the company’s acquisition by Motorola became Director of Technology Strategy in Motorola Mobile Devices. After leaving Motorola he was CTO Enterprise Systems with ip.access, a manufacturer of GSM picocells and 3G femtocells. In early 2010 he joined Cognovo, which was acquired by u-blox AG in 2012. He led u-blox' involvement in 3GPP NB-IoT standardisation and the company's initial development of the first modules for trials and demonstrations. Now retired from u-blox he is an Honorary Professor in Electronic and Electrical Engineering at Bristol University, where he chairs the SWAN Prosperity Partnership Project external advisory board . He was founder chair and is Board Member Emeritus of the IoT Security Foundation. He served on the CW Board chaired the Editorial Board of the CW Journal.  John has a first degree from Birmingham (1971) and a PhD from Leeds (1977) universities, and is a Life Member of the IEEE.

Ying Lia Li - Physicist & entrepreneur, University College London

Dr Ying Lia Li (Lia) received a 1st class MSci degree in physics from Imperial College and a Ph.D. from University College London. Lia has been building and optimising laser systems for over a decade. Between 2010-2012 she worked at the Advanced Technology Centre at BAE Systems, developing optical fibres for Eurofighter, MEMS pH sensors, and project management/bidding. In 2012 -2016 Lia completed a Ph.D. specialising in feedback control and laser cooling for creating macroscopic quantum ground states using optical microcavities. Her current position as an EPSRC Doctoral Prize fellow aims to use these microcavities as inertial sensors. She was invited to join the Nature/EF Innovation Forum to create an initial business case and has written for Nature Nanotechnology on the topic of commercialising research. Lia is a member of the Institute of Physics and the Optical Society of America.

Chris Marshall - Honorary Senior Research Fellow, University of Sussex

Dr Chris Marshall is Honorary Senior Research Fellow at Sussex University. He is currently exploring wireless positioning systems for the Internet of Things with the University. Following his graduation from Cambridge University and a PhD with Imperial College he has enjoyed and led numerous wireless R&D projects with Philips, from early integrated circuits for pocket pagers and for GSM, through to software receivers and services for geotagging photos with GPS. In recent years with u-blox he has been developing services and technologies for timing and positioning with cellular modems.

Ashwin Seshia - Professor of Microsystems Technology, University of Cambridge

Ashwin A. Seshia received his BTech in Engineering Physics in 1996 from IIT Bombay, MS and PhD degrees in Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences from the University of California, Berkeley in 1999 and 2002 respectively, and the MA from the University of Cambridge in 2008. He joined the faculty of the Engineering Department at the University of Cambridge in October 2002 where he is presently a Professor of Microsystems Technology and a Fellow of Queens' College. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Physics, a Fellow of the Institution for Engineering and Technology and a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Prof Seshia serves on the editorial boards of the IEEE Journal of Microelectromechanical Systems, the IEEE Transactions on Nanotechnology and the IEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics and Frequency Control, and the technical program committees for the European Frequency and Time Forum and the IEEE Frequency Control Symposium.

SIG Champions

David Bartlett - Head of Technology Positioning, u-blox UK

David Bartlett works in the positioning technology (R&D) group at u-blox with a focus on hybrid positioning: bringing together GNSS with terrestrial systems such as UWB and V2X, primarily in support of future autonomous vehicle, driverless car and robotics applications but also for IoT and indoor positioning. Prior to this he was CTO and co-founder of Omnisense delivering high precision indoor IoT tracking solutions. He also worked at Cambridge Positioning systems with a focus on cellular positioning and network aided GNSS techniques.

Bob Cockshott - Knowledge Transfer Manager, Positioning, Navigation, Timing and Quantum, KTN

After 25 years in the space industry working mainly on electro-optical payloads, Bob has spent the last 13 years in the government-funded Knowledge Transfer Network, supporting business in position, navigation and timing, and more recently also quantum technology. Bob has taken a special interest in GNSS vulnerability, and has organised international conferences on vulnerability and its mitigation. Bob is a member of the Cabinet Office PNT Technical Group and chairs the Royal Institute of Navigation’s Technical Committee. Bob is a member of the International Time and Sync Forum Steering Group and is also a Cambridge Wireless Location Based Services SIG Champion.

Ramsey Faragher - Founder, President, and CTO, FocalPoint

Dr Ramsey Faragher is Founder, President and CTO of Focal Point Positioning, a Fellow of the Royal Institute of Navigation, and a Fellow of Queens' College, at the University of Cambridge. He is the inventor of the Supercorrelation digital signal processing technique, which has redefined the state of the art in GPS positioning. He is the author of dozens of patents, and has been the recipient of numerous awards within the positioning and navigation ecosystem. His company is pioneering improvements to smartphone and automotive navigation systems, and in the past during his time in the Defence sector he has developed technologies that have been to the bottom of the ocean and all the way to Mars. He also helped to improve the bluetooth tracking capabilities of various globally-deployed contact tracing technologies during the Covid pandemic. He regularly contributes to technology podcasts, writes for Forbes, and has provided science advice for two television production companies. Ramsey lives with his family in Cambridge and is currently navigating the challenging landscape of having three small and adventurous children.

Ben Tarlow - Senior Staff Engineer, Qualcomm Technologies International

Ben has worked in positioning for 15 years, developing algorithms for satellite, cellular and other terrestrial RF technologies. At Qualcomm, Ben works in the Advanced Algorithms group, where current research areas in location are data fusion, use of sensor data for positioning and fitness applications; one day, he hopes to be given the remit to explore the area of olfactory positioning. Ben has a background in Pure Mathematics and a PhD in Combinatorics. He has over 20 different patents filed or granted, mostly on subjects relating to positioning.

Event Location

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Location info

National Physical Laboratory, Hampton Road, Teddington, Middlesex, TW11 0LW

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