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Patrick Gill

Patrick Gill

Senior NPL Fellow

Patrick Gill MBE FRS is a Senior NPL Fellow in Optical Frequency Standards and Metrology. Patrick  joined NPL in 1975 after completing his DPhil thesis on gas laser excitation mechanisms at the University of Oxford. He has published more than 190 scientific papers, of which 140 are peer-reviewed. He became a Fellow of the Institute of Physics in 1998. For many years, he represented NPL on the CIPM Consultative Committees for Time and Frequency, and for Length, and was 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, and the 2008 Young Medal and Prize, awarded by the Institute of Physics. He was awarded the Callendar Medal from the Institute of Measurement & Control in 2016, the European Frequency & Time Forum 2019 Marcel Ecabert Lifetime Achievement award, and recently received the 2020 Rumford Medal from the Royal Society.

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.

Current interests


Patrick is a Senior NPL Fellow and co-Director of the NPL Quantum Metrology Institute, concerned with state-of-the-art research into quantum frequency standards and atomic clocks and metrology. This activity combines ultra-stable laser techniques with laser-cooled ion and atom narrow reference transitions, together with high-accuracy femtosecond combs, to provide optical clocks that challenge the best available microwave atomic fountain clocks that currently define the second, and which underpin the national timescale.

The team has also developed these leading fountain clocks together with high-accuracy techniques for comparing both microwave and optical atomic clocks, both locally, and remotely by satellite and optical fibre frequency transfer. There are also R&D activities in cold atom interferometry, magnetometry and high resolution laser spectroscopy, and the development of portable microwave and optical clocks, within the team.

These microwave and optical clock technologies have wider application to fundamental physics, space science, satellite navigation and Earth observation, telecommunications, aerospace, defence and precision engineering.

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