The Military University of Technology is commercializing time counters of special precision

The Polish company KenBIT has acquired a license from the Military University of Technology, on the basis of which it will produce a metrological set consisting of a multi-channel timer, a generator of standard time periods and a splitter transmitting signals between multiple devices. This is yet another example of the university’s involvement in the development of solutions in the field of precise measuring and comparing the time pattern over the years.

Military University of Technology devices for highly precise timing have been commercialized by the team of prof. dr hab. Eng. Ryszard Szplet – the dean of the Faculty of Electronics of the Military University of Technology and at the same time the head of the research group working at the Department of Digital Technology. As the representatives of the Military University of Technology explain, it is a demanding technical niche that is developed by only a few manufacturers in the world. At the same time – as they claim – no research group in the world has yet developed a set with so many functionalities. The equipment created by Polish specialists is directed to recipients with very specialized needs – incl. measurement laboratories and space research centers.

The methods used in the developed devices and the design have already been patented by researchers from the Military University of Technology. The Warsaw-based KenBIT company paid for the license and started the production of a three-element measurement set. These elements can be used as separate devices.

“The set is technologically and functionally advanced, and at the same time relatively universal” – emphasizes Prof. Szplet. “If the user is interested only in measuring time intervals, he will acquire a multi-channel timer. If, on the other hand, he has a need to produce model time periods, he can only buy a generator. In turn, a user interested in distributing electrical or optical signals to several receivers will choose a signal splitter ”- explains the leader of the Polish team. The research group, under the contract signed by WAT with one of the Swedish companies, is already developing another new generation time and frequency counter.

Similar devices in the past were large, energy-intensive and unreliable. However, the development of microelectronic technologies has allowed them to be significantly miniaturized to the size of modules resembling small Hi-Fi audio systems.

Precise counters previously developed by the Military University of Technology are already working in many research laboratories around the world, including: the International BIPM Office of Weights and Measures in Sevres, France, the US Naval Observatory, and the US space agency NASA , at the National Metrological Institute of PTB in Germany, as well as in Polish laboratories – the Central Office of Measures, at the Astrogeodynamic Observatory of the Space Research Center of the Polish Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Communications-National Research Institute.

The research team from the Military University of Technology responsible for the development of an advanced device for precise timing – together with awards won at international exhibitions of innovations and new technologies. 
WAT []

As representatives of the Military University of Technology declare, Poles set trends in the construction of precise time measuring devices many years ago. “In 1997, a team from this university, led at that time by Prof. Józef Kalisz, was the first in the world to develop a precise time-to-digital converter using the then new technology of programmable circuits. this type of equipment “- indicated in the commemorative announcement.

The research team of prof. Szpleta develops a set of measuring instruments for a wider audience. Only a few centers in the world are to be able to offer similar solutions. They include American companies Stanford Research Systems and Keysight (formerly the technology department of Hewlett Packard) and the Swedish Pendulum Instruments.

Precise timing is commonly used in space activities, and thus every citizen indirectly uses it, often without knowing it. The operation of satellite navigation receivers, used in cars and mobile phones, is based on this measurement. Timers also make it possible to produce a common global clock – they are used to compare the readings of many atomic clocks scattered around the world. As a result of the comparisons “time stamps are produced”, which are then sent via satellites to the farthest corners of the globe. This makes it possible to coordinate the work of airports and seaports, rail and road transport on a global scale. On the other hand, we synchronize computers via the Internet, and mobile devices via mobile networks.

To further explain the need for precise timing, Prof. Szplet uses the metaphor of a clock tower. “We use a single time scale in the world. We have precisely synchronized hours, minutes, seconds and even parts of them. But there is no one huge clock tower from which we could all read the correct time, just like from Big Ben, in Japan, the United States or Poland at the same time. Therefore, based on the indications of many atomic clocks, one time scale is calculated and sent around the world as the indications of a common clock ”- he explains.

Comparisons of the progress of many atomic clocks are made possible precisely by precise measurements of time. Such measurements are carried out without interruption in laboratories around the world, and the information obtained about deviations in the operation of local clocks is sent to the International Bureau of Weights and Measures in Sevres near Paris, where physicists develop appropriate corrections for each of the clocks in order to synchronize with the virtual global clock .

Without precise measurements, high-energy physics would not develop. In the Large Hadron Collider, the delays between elementary particles accelerated to the speed of light are measured. In chemistry, mass spectrometry is based on such measurements, which makes it possible to study the composition of substances. In military applications, by measuring the time of flight of a projectile from leaving the barrel to hitting the target, its muzzle velocity is determined. Accurate time counters are also used in industry, e.g. to verify the dynamic parameters of integrated circuits and mass memories.

Source: Military University of Technology

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