Receive regular emails from NPL to get a glimpse of our activities and see how our experts are informing and influencing scientific debate

Helen Margolis

Helen Margolis

NPL Fellow

Helen Margolis is the Head of Science for Time & Frequency and an NPL Fellow in Optical Frequency Standards and Metrology. She joined NPL in 1998 following a temporary lectureship at the University of Oxford, where she worked on a range of experiments designed to test the theory of quantum electrodynamics by spectroscopy of highly charged ions. She previously undertook her undergraduate and postgraduate studies in Oxford, being awarded the DPhil degree in 1994.

Helen’s specialist area of research expertise is optical frequency metrology using femtosecond combs, part of NPL’s research programme to develop a new generation of high accuracy optical atomic clocks based on laser-cooled trapped ions and atoms. She is the coordinator of a European project Robust optical clocks for international timescales (ROCIT), and the Technical Authority for the National Timing Centre programme.

Helen represents NPL on various international committees, including the Consultative Committee for Time and Frequency (CCTF) and several of its working groups. She is the current chair of the Executive Committee of the European Frequency and Time Forum and a member of the CODATA Task Group on Fundamental Constants. She has been a Visiting Professor at the University of Oxford since 2017 and was awarded an MBE in 2019 for her services to metrology.

Areas of interest

  • Optical clocks and optical frequency comparison technology for future time scales and a redefinition of the second
  • Development of a resilient time scale infrastructure for the UK, by building and linking a new atomic clock network distributed geographically in secure locations
  • Making reliable and trusted time and frequency signals accessible to users at the point of need, with the stability and accuracy they require
  • Using atomic clocks and frequency comparison technology to contribute to improved tests of fundamental physical theories
  • Diversity and inclusion, in particular addressing the gender imbalance in physics (chair of NPL’s Juno committee)

Key publications

  • Direct comparisons of European primary and secondary frequency standards via satellite techniques
    F. Riedel, A. Al-Masoudi, E. Benkler, S. Dörscher, V. Gerginov, C. Grebing, S. Häfner, N. Huntemann, B. Lipphardt, C. Lisdat, E. Peik, D. Piester, C. Sanner, C. Tamm, S. Weyers, H. Denker, L. Timmen, C. Voigt, D. Calonico, G. Cerretto, G. A. Costanzo, F. Levi, I. Sesia, J. Achkar, J. Guéna, M. Abgrall, D. Rovera, B. Chupin, C. Shi, S. Bilicki, E. Bookjans, J. Lodewyck, R. Le Targat, P. Delva, S. Bize, F. N. Baynes, C. F. A. Baynham, W. Bowden, P. Gill, R. M. Godun, I. R. Hill, R. Hobson, J. M. Jones, S. A. King, P. B. R. Nisbet-Jones, A. Rolland, S. L. Shemar, P. B. Whibberley and H. S. Margolis
    Metrologia 57, 045005 (2020)
  • Geodesy and metrology with a transportable optical clock
    J. Grotti, S. Koller, S. Vogt, S. Häfner, U. Sterr, C. Lisdat, H. Denker, C. Voigt, L. Timmen, A. Rolland, F. N. Baynes, H. S. Margolis, M. Zampaolo, P, Thoumany, M. Pizzocaro, B. Rauf, F. Bregolin, A. Tampellini, P. Barbieri, M. Zucco, G. A. Costanzo, C. Clivati, F. Levi and D. Calonico
    Nature Physics 14, 437–441 (2018)
  • Test of special relativity using a fiber network of optical clocks
    P. Delva, J. Lodewyck, S. Bilicki, E. Bookjans, G. Vallet, R. Le Targat, P.-E. Pottie, C. Guerlin, F. Meynadier, C. Le Poncin-Lafitte, O. Lopez, A. Amy-Klein, W.-K. Lee, N. Quintin, C. Lisdat, A. Al-Masoudi, S. Dörscher, C. Grebing, G. Grosche, A. Kuhl, S. Raupach, U. Sterr, I. R. Hill, R. Hobson, W. Bowden, J. Kronjäger, G. Marra, A. Rolland, F. N. Baynes, H. S. Margolis and P. Gill
    Physical Review Letters 118, 221102 (2017)
  • Least-squares analysis of clock frequency comparison data to deduce optimized frequency and frequency ratio values
    H. S. Margolis and P. Gill
    Metrologia 52, 628–634 (2015)

Email Helen Margolis


Google Scholar


Read Helen's Women in Science interview

Read Helen's MBE award story