Étudiant-chercheur étoile March 2014

Jean-Daniel Deschênes, étudiant-chercheur étoile, FRQNT

Jean-Daniel Deschênes

Master's student in Electrical and Software Engineering
Université Laval

Award-winning publication: Heterodyne beats between a continuous-wave laser and a frequency comb beyond the shot-noise limit of a single comb mode

Published in: Physical Review A, 87(2), 023802, 2013


"Timekeeping is driven by the development of techniques and devices of ever-growing precision. The next major clock will be based on optical clocks in which the oscillation of the electric field produced by light defines the passage of time. But unfortunately, the quantic nature of light will ultimately limit the clock's accuracy. My research helped significantly improve the mechanism that converts light oscillation into a useful electrical signal, increasing the exactness of the mechanism by at least a factor of 100. I was able to demonstrate the validity of the model using experimental data supported by a solid theoretical foundation."

From water, pendulums, clockwork and crystals to the atomic clock, which is currently unsurpassed, it is now possible to do far more than simply keep time. The Internet synchronized with quartz clocks and GPS systems based on atomic clocks have made our means of transportation and communication safer and more efficient than ever. Still, the social impacts are difficult to quantify with certainty since they are often very complex and unexpected. Jean-Daniel Deschênes' work on optical clocks could lead to similar advances in telecommunications and geopositioning.