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We explore a reduced phase space quantization of loop quantum cosmology (LQC) for a spatially flat Friedmann-Lemaître-Robertson-Walker (FLRW) universe filled with reference fields and an inflaton field in a Starobinsky inflationary potential. We consider three separate cases in which the reference fields are taken to be the Gaussian dust, the Brown-Kuchař dust, and massless Klein-Gordon scalar reference fields respectively. This is a "two-fluid"model in which reference fields act as global clocks providing a physical time in an inflationary spacetime, and allow bypassing various technical hurdles in conventional quantum cosmological models. The reduced phase space is obtained in terms of the Dirac observables of the gravitational as well as the inflaton degrees of freedom. The physical Hamiltonians of the two dust models take the same form but turn out to be quite different from that of the Klein-Gordon reference field which reflects an aspect of the multiple choice problem of time. Loop quantization is implemented using the so-called μ¯ scheme and the Schrödinger equations involving the physical Hamiltonian operators generating the evolution in the physical time in the dust and massless Klein-Gordon models are obtained. These turn out to be quantum difference equations with the same nonsingular structure as for other models in LQC. We study some phenomenological implications of the quantization using the effective dynamics resulting from the reduced phase space quantization including the resolution of the big bang singularity via a quantum bounce, and effects of the different reference fields on e-foldings in both the preinflationary and the slow-roll inflationary phases. We find that different clocks, even when starting with a small but same energy density, can leave tiny but different imprints on the inflationary dynamics. In addition, for Brown-Kuchař dust, the choice of a negative energy density can result in a cyclic evolution before the onset of inflation constraining certain values for ideal clocks.

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Physical Review D