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Helen Margolis

Helen Margolis

NPL Senior Fellow

Helen Margolis is the Head of Science for Time & Frequency and an NPL Senior 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 has coordinated two European projects working towards key targets on the international roadmap towards a redefinition of the second – International timescales with optical clocks (ITOC) and Robust optical clocks for international timescales (ROCIT) – and is 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 a member of the CODATA Task Group on Fundamental Constants and a former chair of the Executive Committee of the European Frequency and Time Forum (EFTF). 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. In 2023 she was awarded the I I Rabi Award by the IEEE Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics and Frequency Control Society, and also received the 2023 European Frequency and Time award.

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

M. Schioppo, J. Kronjäger, A. Silva, R. Ilieva, J. W. Paterson, C. F. A. Baynham, W. Bowden, I. R. Hill, R. Hobson, A. Vianello, M. Dovale-Álvarez, R. A. Williams, G. Marra, R. M. Godun, H. S. Margolis, A. Amy-Klein, O. Lopez, E. Cantin, H. Alvarez-Martinez, R. Le Targat, P. E. Pottie, N. Quintin, T. Legero, S. Häfner, U. Sterr, R. Schwarz, S. Dörscher, C. Lisdat, S. Koke, A. Kuhl, T. Waterholter, E. Benkler and G. Grosche

Nature Communications 13, 212 (2022)

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)

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)

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)

H. S. Margolis and P. Gill

Metrologia 52, 628–634 (2015)

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Read Helen's MBE award story