Gaetano was born and raised in Saint-Aubin, near Neuchâtel, earning his baccalauréat at the local secondary school. He then studied physics at EPFL and completed his PhD on atomic clocks at the Neuchâtel Observatory. Two years of post-doctoral research followed, at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Boulder, Colorado. Gaetano returned to the Neuchâtel Observatory, and went on to co-found the Time and Frequency Laboratory (LTF) at the Institute of Microtechnology (IMT). He remains co-director of the LTF and teaches physics at the University of Neuchâtel.
We work very frequently with research institutes from around the world. However, due to the unique nature of our laboratory, since the integration of IMT into EPFL and the change in size of the Institute of Physics, we are relatively isolated within the university and don't have many internal partners. Microcity gives us an opportunity to have local contacts, not only with researchers who are working in the same domain as us but also, and above all, in domains that are complementary. This can prove interesting when transferring technology to industry.
Of course. We work regularly with industry. Actually, from 1995, our work has led to the creation of the company Spectratime, based in Neuchâtel, which manufactures the clocks integrated into the satellites used for the European navigation system, Galileo. We also work with the companies T4S and Oscilloquartz, both active in the field of atomic clocks. It’s quite exceptional when you think about it: there isn’t any city in the world other than Neuchâtel where you can find three companies manufacturing atomic clocks.
At the Time and Frequency Laboratory, we are looking into the heart of the atomic clock itself, and researching how to limit the sources of instability. In doing so, we are also studying extreme miniaturisation for these clocks, notably for use in space.
In the media (in French) : Des lasers pour une horloge atomique 10 fois plus précise, Le Matin, January 3, 2018.