To our knowledge this alliteration was used for the first time within the photonics field in an editorial article in Physics Today, written by the well-respected MIT-physicist Dan Kleppner in the year 1989 (Physics Today 42 (11) 9, 1989). It resonated immediately within the part of the atomic physics community that tries to improve the precision of measurement of fundamental physics laws and particularly nature constants. The term “constant” for these people is not much more than a working title and its constant nature has to be proven by an ever increasing precision of measurement, by refining the method year over year. This working method, in particular when applied to the most fundamental atom conceivable, hydrogen, has generated many fundamental physical insights in the 20th century without which our world would be not close to where it is now.
We are convinced that the method will continue to be the driving force for our understanding of the quantum nature of the world in the future too.
A Passion for Precision is therefore much more than just an attitude of an engineering trade, it is the very nature of scientific discovery in the quantum world.
TOPTICA has started with such a scientific mindset. The company has its origins in the days of laser cooling of atomic species, where the dream of spectroscopy became a reality: suddenly it became possible to precisely prepare atoms by laser light such that even a single atom could be probed by laser light for its physical secrets for a (nearly) infinite amount of time, or bunched together in a way that the periodic table can be placed into virtual optical lattices to experience and demonstrate the quantum nature of matter. This experiments are not only very precise allowing to prepare data out of noise with sensitivities that are improving routinely by orders of magnitudes in a few decades, they are very difficult to execute and frustrating to a high level since they are set up as so-called zero-experiments: only the deviation from the expected is searched for, and which would reveal new physics. Without passion this would be impossible.
We were even more happy to see that Prof. Theodor Hänsch, who was instrumental to start TOPTICA and supports the company since then, adopted the phrase as a title for his nobel lecture in the year 2005, in which he gave a fascinating description of the technology path leading to the self-referenced optical frequency combs that he coinvented, deriving from the very method of the field, A Passion of Precision, digging down in precision year by year.