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nanosecond is one billionth of a
secondThe second is a unit of measurement of time, and is the International System of Units base unit of time. It may be measured using a clock....
(10 s). One nanosecond is to one second as one second is to 31.7 years.
The word nanosecond is formed by the
prefixThe International System of Units specifies a set of unit prefixes known as SI prefixes or metric prefixes. An SI prefix is a name that precedes a basic unit of measure to indicate a decadic multiple or fraction of the unit. Each prefix has a unique symbol that is prepended to the unit symbol...
nano and the unit
second. Its symbol is
ns.
A nanosecond is equal to 1000
picosecondA picosecond is 10−12 of a second. That is one trillionth, or one millionth of one millionth of a second, or 0.000 000 000 001 seconds. A picosecond is to one second as one second is to 31,700 years....
s or
microsecondA microsecond is an SI unit of time equal to one millionth of a second. Its symbol is µs.A microsecond is equal to 1000 nanoseconds or 1/1000 millisecond...
. Because the next SI unit is 1000 times larger, times of 10 and 10 seconds are typically expressed as tens or hundreds of nanoseconds.
Times of this magnitude are commonly encountered in telecommunications, pulsed
laserA laser is a device that emits light through a process of optical amplification based on the stimulated emission of photons. The term "laser" originated as an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation...
s and some areas of
electronicsElectronics is the branch of science, engineering and technology that deals with electrical circuits involving active electrical components such as vacuum tubes, transistors, diodes and integrated circuits, and associated passive interconnection technologies...
. Some notable measurements in this range include:
Common measurements
 0.6 nanoseconds (0.5 ns)  the average life of a molecule of positronium hydride
Positronium hydride is a molecule consisting of an atom of positronium, and one of hydrogen. Its formula is PsH. It was predicted to exist in 1951 by A Ore, and subsequently studied theoretically, but was not observed until 1990. R. Pareja, R. Gonzalez from Madrid trapped positronium in hydrogen...
.
 1.0 nanosecond (1.0 ns) – cycle time for radio frequency
Frequency is the number of occurrences of a repeating event per unit time. It is also referred to as temporal frequency.The period is the duration of one cycle in a repeating event, so the period is the reciprocal of the frequency...
1 GHz (1 hertzThe hertz is the SI unit of frequency defined as the number of cycles per second of a periodic phenomenon. One of its most common uses is the description of the sine wave, particularly those used in radio and audio applications....
), an inverse unit. This corresponds to a radio wavelengthIn physics, the wavelength of a sinusoidal wave is the spatial period of the wave—the distance over which the wave's shape repeats.It is usually determined by considering the distance between consecutive corresponding points of the same phase, such as crests, troughs, or zero crossings, and is a...
of 1 lightnanosecond or 0.3 mTo help compare different orders of magnitude this page lists lengths between 10 centimetres and 100 centimetres .Distances shorter than 10 centimetresConversions:10 centimetres is equal to...
, as can be calculated by multiplying 1 ns by the speed of lightThe speed of light in vacuum, usually denoted by c, is a physical constant important in many areas of physics. Its value is 299,792,458 metres per second, a figure that is exact since the length of the metre is defined from this constant and the international standard for time...
(approximately 3 m/s) to determine the distance traveled.
 1.0 nanosecond (1.0 ns) – cycle time for a 1 GHz processor. Common processors today have frequencies around 13.5 GHz, so the cycle time is somewhat shorter than a nanosecond.
 1.017 nanoseconds (approximately) – time taken for light
Light or visible light is electromagnetic radiation that is visible to the human eye, and is responsible for the sense of sight. Visible light has wavelength in a range from about 380 nanometres to about 740 nm, with a frequency range of about 405 THz to 790 THz...
to travel 1 foot.
 3.33564095 nanoseconds (approximately) – time taken for light
Light or visible light is electromagnetic radiation that is visible to the human eye, and is responsible for the sense of sight. Visible light has wavelength in a range from about 380 nanometres to about 740 nm, with a frequency range of about 405 THz to 790 THz...
to travel 1 metreThe metre , symbol m, is the base unit of length in the International System of Units . Originally intended to be one tenmillionth of the distance from the Earth's equator to the North Pole , its definition has been periodically refined to reflect growing knowledge of metrology...
in vacuum. (In air or water light travels more slowly; see index of refraction)
 10 nanoseconds – one "shake
A shake is an informal unit of time equal to 10 nanoseconds, or 10−8 seconds. It has applications in nuclear physics, helping to conveniently express the timing of various events in a nuclear explosion. The typical time required for one step in the chain reaction A shake is an informal unit of time...
", ( as in a "shake of a lamb's tail.") approximate time of one generation of a nuclear chain reaction with fast neutrons
 10 nanoseconds (10 ns) – cycle time for frequency 100 megahertz (1 Hertz
The hertz is the SI unit of frequency defined as the number of cycles per second of a periodic phenomenon. One of its most common uses is the description of the sine wave, particularly those used in radio and audio applications....
), radio wavelength 3 mThe metre , symbol m, is the base unit of length in the International System of Units . Originally intended to be one tenmillionth of the distance from the Earth's equator to the North Pole , its definition has been periodically refined to reflect growing knowledge of metrology...
(VHFA radiotelephone is a communications system for transmission of speech over radio. Radiotelephone systems are not necessarily interconnected with the public "land line" telephone network. "Radiotelephone" is often used to describe the usage of radio spectrum where it is important to distinguish the...
, FM band)
 12 nanoseconds – halflife of a K meson
 20–40 nanoseconds – time of fusion reaction in a hydrogen bomb
 77 nanoseconds – a sixth (a 60th of a 60th of a 60th of a 60th of a second)
 100 nanoseconds – cycle time for frequency
Frequency is the number of occurrences of a repeating event per unit time. It is also referred to as temporal frequency.The period is the duration of one cycle in a repeating event, so the period is the reciprocal of the frequency...
10 MHz, radio wavelength 30 mTo help compare different orders of magnitude this page lists lengths between 10 metres and 100 metres.Distances shorter than 10 metresConversions:10 metres is equal to:* 10 metres...
(shortwaveShortwave radio refers to the upper MF and all of the HF portion of the radio spectrum, between 1,800–30,000 kHz. Shortwave radio received its name because the wavelengths in this band are shorter than 200 m which marked the original upper limit of the medium frequency band first used...
)
 333 nanoseconds – cycle time of highest medium wave radio frequency, 3 MHz
 500 nanoseconds – T1 time of Josephson phase qubit
The phase qubit is a superconducting device based on the superconductorinsulatorsuperconductor Josephson junction, designed to operate as a quantum bit, or qubit. The phase qubit is closely related, yet distinct from, the flux qubit and the charge qubit, which are also quantum bits implemented...
(see also QubitIn quantum computing, a qubit or quantum bit is a unit of quantum information—the quantum analogue of the classical bit—with additional dimensions associated to the quantum properties of a physical atom....
) as of May 2005