National Physical Laboratory

Patrick Gill

Current interests

Patrick Gill

Patrick Gill is co-Director of the NPL Quantum Metrology Institute, and leads the NPL Time & Frequency team of scientists concerned with leading-edge research into state-of-the art quantum frequency standards based on laser-cooled atoms and ions, ultra-stable lasers, femtosecond comb metrology, optical frequency transfer by fibre, atom interferometry, magnetometry and high resolution laser spectroscopy. The cold atom research includes primary caesium microwave fountain clocks that realise the SI second and underpin the national timescale, and optical clocks that promise a future redefinition of the second. These quantum standards and metrology techniques have application to fundamental physics, space science and Earth observation, aerospace, defence and precision engineering.


Patrick joined NPL in 1975 after completing his DPhil thesis on gas laser excitation mechanisms at the University of Oxford. He has published 170 scientific papers, of which 117 are peer-reviewed. He represents NPL on the CIPM Consultative Committees for Time & Frequency and for Length, and is a co-Chair of the CCTF-CCL Frequency Standards Working Group.

Patrick is a visiting professor at Imperial College and at the University of Oxford. He was awarded the Tompion Medal by the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers in 1999, and the Rabi Award by the IEEE International Frequency Control Symposium in 2007. Patrick won the 2008 Young Medal and Prize, awarded by the Institute of Physics for 'distinguished research in optics, including work related to physics outside the visible region'. 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.

Selected publications

  • Frequency ratio of two optical clock transitions in 171Yb+ and constraints on the time-variation of fundamental constants
    R.M Godun, P.B.R. Nisbet-Jones, J.M. Jones, S.A. King, L.A.M. Johnson, H.S. Margolis, K. Szymaniec, S.N. Lea, K. Bongs, P. Gill
    Physical Review Letters, 113, 210801 (2014)
  • Agreement between two 88Sr+ optical clocks to 4 parts in 1017
    G.P. Barwood, G. Huang, H.A. Klein, L. A. M. Johnson, S.A. King, H. S. Margolis, K. Szymaniec and P. Gill
    Physical Review A (Rapid Comms), 89, 050501 (2014)
  • A monolithic array of three-dimensional ion traps fabricated with conventional semiconductor technology
    G. Wilpers, P. See, P. Gill and A. G. Sinclair
    Nature Nanotechnology, 7, 572-576 (2012)
  • When should we change the definition of the second
    Patrick Gill
    Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A, 369, 4109-4130 (2011)
  • Force - insensitive optical cavity
    Stephen Webster and Patrick Gill
    Optics Letters, 36, 3572-4 (2011)

Contact details

Tel: 020 8943 6986

Last Updated: 23 Nov 2015
Created: 25 Aug 2010


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