Honda Prize 2022 Awardee: Dr. Hidetoshi Katori, Professor, Graduate School

of Engineering, University of Tokyo


TOKYO, Sept. 30, 2022 /Kyodo JBN/ --

Honda Foundation

-For Inventing Optical Lattice Clock That Only Loses One Second in 30 Billion Years-


The Honda Foundation, the public-interest incorporated foundation established by Soichiro Honda and his younger brother Benjiro and currently led by President Hiroto Ishida, is pleased to announce that the Honda Prize 2022 will be awarded to Dr. Hidetoshi Katori, Professor, the Graduate School of Engineering, The University of Tokyo (Chief Scientist and Team Leader, RIKEN), for inventing an optical lattice clock that is 1,000 times more precise than conventional atomic clocks.


The Honda Prize, established in 1980 and awarded annually, is an international award recognizing the work of individuals or groups generating new knowledge that will drive the next generation from the standpoint of ecotechnology (*1). Dr. Katori invented in 2001 a novel optical atomic clock that uses a large number of atoms trapped in an optical lattice to provide an ultra-high-precision time and frequency standard. In contrast to the cesium atomic clock (*2) that keeps the International Atomic Time with an accuracy of about 15 digits (*3), the optical atomic clock is expected to allow 18-digit precision by employing optical transitions that have tens of thousands of times higher frequency than microwave frequency. At this precision, it takes 30 billion years to lose one second.


This precision enables relativistic geodesy to measure a height difference of one centimeter on Earth based on the relativistic effect that causes time to flow slowly for a strong gravitational field.


The origin of ecotechnology is in Soichiro Honda's words: "Make people happy with technology." The improvement in accuracy of one second is expected to have an immeasurable impact on mankind. The Prize will be awarded to Dr. Katori for this groundbreaking invention, which is worthy of the highest recognition.


Research on the optical lattice clock by Dr. Katori:



Dr. Hidetoshi Katori:



(*1)Ecotechnology: A neologism combining imaging of the natural world (ecology), including civilization as a whole, and technology. Advocated by the Honda Foundation in 1979, it seeks new technological concepts required by human society to further the coexistence of people and technology.


(*2)Cesium atomic clock: An atomic clock that uses the cesium 133 atom. Atomic clocks rely on the property of atoms to emit and absorb electromagnetic waves with a certain frequency. The duration of electromagnetic waves oscillating 9,192,631,770 times, which is generated by cesium transition, defines one second and has been used to keep the International Atomic Time since the 13th General Conference of Weights and Measures in 1967. The accuracy of the cesium clock corresponds to a loss of one second in 60 million years.


(*3)International Atomic Time accuracy of about 15 digits: Accurate enough to measure with a fractional accuracy with one part in 10 to the 15th power.


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