Her particular area of research expertise is optical frequency metrology using femtosecond combs, part of NPL’s research programme to develop a new generation of high accuracy optical atomic clocks based on laser-cooled trapped ions and atoms. She is also leading a European consortium tackling some of the key challenges that need to be addressed prior to an anticipated redefinition of the second based on optical clocks.
Helen Margolis became an NPL Fellow in Optical Frequency Standards and Metrology in 2015 and in 2017 was appointed as a Visiting Professor at the University of Oxford. She was a member of the expert panel that shaped the Blackett review, The Quantum Age: technological opportunities, developed by Sir Mark Walport, the Government Chief Scientific Adviser. Helen drafted the chapter on quantum clocks, including several case studies that highlighted the importance of this technology across a wide range of applications. The report explores how the UK could benefit from the research, development and commercialisation of quantum technologies, and was timed to coincide with the midpoint of the UK’s National Quantum Technologies Programme.
Helen is heavily involved in NPL’s diversity and inclusion activities, chairing NPL’s Juno committee, which addresses gender equality in physics by encouraging better practice for all staff. Under her leadership, NPL was able to demonstrate an improvement in the working culture, and in 2018 NPL was proud to be awarded Juno Practitioner status by the Institute of Physics.
Helen said: “Metrology is a part of science that is probably not talked about enough, and yet measurement is crucial to almost every aspect of our lives. So, to be awarded an MBE for my contribution to the field is a really proud moment for me. Time and frequency in particular is such a fascinating and rewarding area to work in, and it’s great to see our research having a real impact, such as with technologies like optical atomic clocks, that are heralding new possibilities for the future.”
Find out more about NPL's Time and Frequency research
Read Helen's Women in Science interview
11 Jun 2019