John D. Prestage


Ph.D. in atomic physics from Yale University in 1983 followed by 2 years of postdoctoral work in the ion storage group with David Wineland (2012 Nobel Prize in Physics), at NIST Boulder where he was a member of the team that developed the first laser cooled atomic clock. BS degree Mathematics, MS degree Physics University of Alabama, Huntsville

Research Interests: 

Research interests include developing Ultra-stable space-based atomic ion clocks to advance spacecraft navigation and planetary radio science; developing miniature ion trap based clocks; developing fundamental physics tests through atomic clock comparisons; and ion mass spectrometer instruments based on linear ion traps.

Professional Experience: 

Science and Technology lead for the NASA/JPL DSAC (Deep Space Atomic Clock) mission where a small ion-atomic clock is being adapted for long term deep space and Earth orbit operation. This technology is the prototype for the next generation GPS III space atomic clock. Prior to DSAC, he led the SCaN Space Ion Clock Technology Development Team.

Invented and developed first linear rf ion trap, the first multi-pole linear ion trap together with ion transfer methodology to enable ultra-stable atomic ion clock. These ion-clock were first to exceed stability of H-maser clocks. Linear ion traps are now used world-wide for ion clocks, quantum computing, and quadrupole mass analyzers.

Designed and delivered 10 cm3 ion trap physics package for ongoing DARPA IMPACT small clock competition.

He has developed and carried out new tests of Local Lorentz Invariance and Local Position Invariance – both cornerstones of Einstein’s General Relativity. Two NASA mission proposals (SMEX and MIDEX mission Space-Time) were based on this work. This work started the modern day clock comparison searches for time variation of the fundamental constants.

Active IEEE member in the International Frequency Control Symposium; Served as Technical Program Chair for 2000 and 2001; Several years as Tutorials Chair. He is a member of the American Physical Society, Topical Groups on Gravitation, IMS, DAMOP, FIAP, and PMFC.

Selected Awards: 
  • He has been awarded over 20 NASA New Technology Awards, 3 Patents, and a NASA Exceptional Technology Achievement Medal, all in the field of ion-trap devices. In 2009 he was awarded the highest IEEE prize in clock science and technology, the I. I. Rabi Award.
  • IEEE Rabi Award (2009), Award Citation: For Seminal work on the time variation of the fundamental constants and outstanding contributions to trapped ion clocks
  • NASA Exceptional Technology Achievement Medal (2004): Citation: Linear Ion Trap Frequency Standards with Ultra-high Stability Suitable for Space and Ground Applications

Selected Publications: 
  1. J. D. Prestage and Sang Chung, Repetitive Interrogation of 2-level Quantum Systems, Proc. 2010 International Frequency Control Symposium, 2-4 June 2010, Newport Beach, CA.
  2. J. D. Prestage, Sang K. Chung, Robert J. Thompson and Paul MacNeal, Progress on Small Mercury Ion Clock for Space Applications, Proc. 2009 European Frequency and Time Forum, 20-24 April 2009 Besançon, France, p.55.
  3. J. D. Prestage and G. Weaver, Atomic Clocks and Oscillators for Deep Space Navigation and Radio Science, Proc. IEEE special issue Technical Advances in Deep Space Communications and Tracking, September 2007.
  4. J. D. Prestage, R. L. Tjoelker, L. Maleki, Atomic Clocks and Variations of the Fine Structure Constant, Phys. Rev. Lett. 74, 3511 - 3514 (1995).
  5. J. D. Prestage, G. J. Dick, and L. Maleki, New Ion Trap for Frequency Standard Applications, Journal of Applied Physics 66, Issue 3, pp. 1013-1017, 1989.
  6. J. D. Prestage, A. Williams, L. Maleki, M. J. Djomehri, and E. Harabetian, Dynamics of charged particles in a Paul radio-frequency quadrupole trap, Phys. Rev. Lett. 66, 2964 - 2967 (1991).
  7. J. D. Prestage, R. L. Tjoelker, L. Maleki, Recent Developments in Microwave Ion Clocks, Topics in Applied Physics 79, Frequency Measurement and Control: Advanced Techniques and Future Trends, Springer p. 195, 2001.
  8. J. D. Prestage, R. L. Tjoelker, L. Maleki, Higher Pole Linear Traps for Atomic Clock Applications, Frequency and Time Forum, 1999 and the IEEE International Frequency Control Symposium, p. 121, 1999.
  9. J. J. Bollinger, J. D. Prestage, W. M. Itano, D. J. Wineland, Laser-Cooled-Atomic Frequency Standard, Physical Review Letters, 1985 (First ever laser cooled atomic clock).
  10. J. D. Prestage, J. J. Bollinger, Wayne M. Itano, and D. J. Wineland, Limits for Spatial Anisotropy by Use of Nuclear-Spin-Polarized 9Be+ Ions, Phys. Rev. Lett. 54, 2387- 2390 (1985).
  11. J. D. Prestage, R. L. Tjoelker, G. J. Dick, L. Maleki, Improved Linear Ion trap Physics Package, Proc. 1993 IEEE Frequency Control Symposium, pp 144-147, 1994.
  12. J. D. Prestage, E. Burt, Sang Chung, L. Maleki, R. Tjoelker, Stability Measurements between two Hg+ LITE 12-Pole Clocks, 3rd Int Conf Trapped Charged Particles and Fundamental Interactions August 25-30, 2002 Wildbad Kreuth.
  13. J. D. Prestage, E. A. Hinds, F. M. J. Pichanick, Precise Measurements of Hyperfine Structure in the 2 3P State of 3He, Physical Review Letters, 1983.
  14. D. J. Wineland, J. J. Bollinger, Wayne M. Itano, and J. D. Prestage, Angular Momentum of trapped Atomic Particles, JOSA B, Vol. 2, Issue 11, pp. 1721-1730 (1985)
  15. Dick, G. J. ; Prestage, J. D. ; Greenhall, C. A. ; Maleki, L. , Local Oscillator Induced Degradation of Medium-Term Stability in Passive Atomic Frequency Standards, 22nd Annual Precise Time and Time Interval (PTTI) Applications and Planning 4-6 Dec 1990




  1. JD Prestage - US Patent 5,420,549, 1995 - Extended linear ion trap frequency standard apparatus.
  2. JD Prestage, SK Chung - US Patent 8,058,936, 2011-- Atomic ion clock with two ion traps, and method to transfer ions.
  3. JD Prestage - US Patent 6,157,031, 2000 -- Quadrupole mass analyzer with linear ion trap
John D. Prestage
4800 Oak Grove Dr.
Pasadena, CA 91109
Phone: 818.354.3515
Fax Number: 818.393.6773