Time and Frequency from A to Z: N to O
 A-Al Am-B C-Ce Ch-Cy D-Do Dr-E F G H I J-K L M N-O P Q-Ra Re-Ru S-So St-Sy T-Te Ti To-Tw U-W X-Z Notes Index

Nanosecond (ns)

One billionth of a second (10-9 s).

Network Time Protocol (NTP)
Nominal Frequency

An ideal frequency with zero uncertainty. The nominal frequency is the frequency labeled on an oscillator's output. For this reason, it is sometimes called the nameplate frequency. For example, an oscillator whose nameplate or label reads 5 MHz has a nominal frequency of 5 MHz. The difference between the nominal frequency and the actual output frequency of the oscillator is the frequency offset.

Octave

The interval between two frequencies having a ratio of 2 to 1. Starting from a fundamental frequency, one octave higher is twice that frequency; one octave lower is half that frequency. The concept of an octave is most widely known and most easily illustrated with musical notes. For example, a piano keyboard has a range of over seven octaves from the lowest frequency to the highest frequency note. There are eight keys on a piano that play the musical note A. Each musical note A has a frequency twice as high as the note in the previous octave, as shown in the table.

 Musical Note Frequency (Hz) A0 27.5 A1 55 A2 110 A3 220 A4 440 A5 880 A6 1760 A7 3520
OCXO

An acronymn for Oven Controlled Crystal Oscillator. A type of quartz oscillator design that reduces environmental problems by enclosing the crystal in a temperature-controlled chamber called an oven. When an OCXO is turned on, it goes through a "warm-up" period while the temperatures of the crystal resonator and its oven stabilize. During this time, the performance of the oscillator continuously changes until it reaches its normal operating temperature. The temperature within the oven then remains constant, even when the outside temperature varies.

Since the environment is carefully controlled, OCXOs have excellent short-term stability. A typical OCXO might be stable to 1 x 10-12. The limitations in short-term stability are mainly due to noise from electronic components in the oscillator circuits. Long term stability is limited by aging.

One Way Time and Frequency Transfer
On Time Marker (OTM)
Optical Frequency Standard

A frequency standard based on the optical transitions in ions and neutral atoms. These standards have a much higher resonance frequency than atomic oscillators based on microwave transitions, a much higher Q, and potentially a much higher stability. Although optical frequency standards are currently used for experimental purposes only, the research being conducted in this area could lead to the next generation of atomic oscillators. For information about current research, visit the NIST Optical Frequency Measurements Group web site.

Oscillator
Overtone Frequency

A multiple of the fundamental resonance frequency of a quartz oscillator that is used as the oscillator's output frequency. Most high stability quartz oscillators output either the third or fifth overtone frequency to achieve a high Q. Overtones higher than fifth are rarely used because they make it harder to tune the device to the desired frequency.

 A-Al Am-B C-Ce Ch-Cy D-Do Dr-E F G H I J-K L M N-O P Q-Ra Re-Ru S-So St-Sy T-Te Ti To-Tw U-W X-Z Notes Index