The design could be mass-produced with existing technology.
Above – NIST's prototype chip for measuring important quantities such as length with quantum precision. The device works by using a laser to probe atoms to generate infrared light at a precise wavelength. The NIST chip packs a tiny cloud of atoms and structures for guiding light waves into less than 1 square centimeter. The atoms are contained in a vapor cell—the square window on top of the chip, which is surrounded by black epoxy holding a fiber-optic array. The penny is a scale reference. Credit: Hummon/NIST
NIST's prototype chip was used to generate infrared light at a wavelength of 780 nanometers, precisely enough to be used as a length reference for calibrating other instruments. The NIST chip packs the atom cloud and structures for guiding light waves into less than 1 square centimeter, about one ten-thousandth of the volume of other compact devices offering similar measurement precision.