Research Highlights

Atomic & Molecular Physics | Quantum Information Science & Technology
A Magic Recipe for a Quantum Interferometer
A comparison of two optical cavities, with the left cavity having only localized atoms and no squeezing. In contrast, the right cavity depicts delocalized atoms, squeezing and entanglement.
Published: November 17, 2021

Gravimetry, or the measurement of the strength of a gravitational field (or gravitational acceleration), has been of great interest to physicists since the 1600s. One of the most precise ways to measure gravitational acceleration is to use an atom interferometer. There are many different types of atom interferometers but so far all operate using uncorrelated atoms that are not entangled. To build the best one allowed in nature, it requires harnessing the power of quantum entanglement. However, making a quantum interferometer with entangled atoms is challenging. JILA Fellows Ana Maria Rey and James K. Thompson have published a paper in Physical Review Letters that discusses a new protocol that could make entangled quantum interferometers easier to produce and use.

PI: Ana Maria Rey | PI: James Thompson
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Quantum Information Science & Technology
NIST’s Quantum Crystal Could Be a New Dark Matter Sensor
Illustration of a quantum crystal
Published: August 06, 2021

Physicists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have linked together, or “entangled,” the mechanical motion and electronic properties of a tiny blue crystal, giving it a quantum edge in measuring electric fields with record sensitivity that may enhance understanding of the universe.

PI: Ana Maria Rey
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Laser Physics | Quantum Information Science & Technology
BCS: Building a Cavity Superconductor
Model of an optical cavity
Published: May 18, 2021

The idea of quantum simulation has only become more widely researched in the past few decades. Quantum simulators allow for the study of a quantum system that would be difficult to study easily and quickly in a laboratory or model with a supercomputer. A new paper published in Physical Review Letters, by a collaboration between theorists in the Rey Group and experimentalists in the Thompson laborator,y proposes a way to engineer a quantum simulator of superconductivity that can measure phenomena so far inaccessible in real materials. 

PI: Ana Maria Rey | PI: James Thompson
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Quantum Information Science & Technology
Molecules in Flat Lands: an Entanglement Paradise
Model of the quantum gas pancake
Published: March 18, 2021

Entangled particles have always fascinated physicists, as measuring one entangled particle can result in  a change in another entangled particle, famously dismissed as “spooky action at a distance” by Einstein. By now, physicists understand this strange effect and how to make use of it, for example to increase the sensitivity of measurements. However, entangled states are very fragile, as they can be easily disrupted by decoherence. Researchers have already created entangled states in atoms, photons, electrons and ions, but only recently have studies begun to explore  entanglement in gases of polar molecules. 

PI: Ana Maria Rey | PI: Jun Ye
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Atomic & Molecular Physics
Total Ellipse of the SU(N)
SU(N) fermions display unique properties.
Published: September 11, 2020

A strangely shaped cloud of fermions revealed a record-fast way of cooling atoms for quantum devices.

PI: Jun Ye | PI: Ana Maria Rey
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Atomic & Molecular Physics | Precision Measurement
Falling Dominos and an Army of Schrödinger’s Cats
generating multiple cat state atoms
Published: July 27, 2020

Using the laser from the strontium optical atomic clock, physicists can generate multiple cat-state atoms quickly and easily.

PI: Ana Maria Rey
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Atomic & Molecular Physics
Phases on the Move: A Quantum Game of Catch
Phase transitions in a dynamic system
Published: April 29, 2020

The world is out-of-equilibrium, and JILA scientists are trying to learn what rules govern the dynamic systems that make our universe so complex and beautiful, from black holes to our living bodies.

PI: Ana Maria Rey | PI: James Thompson
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Atomic & Molecular Physics | Quantum Information Science & Technology
The Power of the Dark Side
Using the Pauli blockade to create a dark state
Published: January 06, 2020

Atoms could live in their excited states forever by reaching a dark state.

PI: Ana Maria Rey
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Atomic & Molecular Physics | Quantum Information Science & Technology
Dancing through dynamical phase transitions in an out-of-equilibrium state
Dynamical phase transitions in an out-of-equilibrium system
Published: August 02, 2019

Using Feshbach resonance, physicists have found that they can control a dynamical phase transition in an out-of-equilibrium state. 

PI: Ana Maria Rey
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Quantum Information Science & Technology
Tying Quantum Knots with an Optical Clock
The optical atomic clock in Jun Ye's lab can create cluster states in milliseconds.
Published: May 22, 2019

Getting a cluster state of perfectly entangled atoms for quantum computing may be easier using a tool in JILA's laboratory.

PI: Ana Maria Rey
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Quantum Information Science & Technology
Chaos reigns in a quantum ion magnet
Rapid scrambling at the edge of a black hole
Published: April 29, 2019

JILA researchers have proposed an experiment that would allow them to study rapid scrambling of quantum information, similar to what happens at the event horizon of a black hole. 

PI: Ana Maria Rey
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Atomic & Molecular Physics | Precision Measurement | Quantum Information Science & Technology
Twisting Atoms to Push Quantum Limits
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Published: August 13, 2018

The chaos within a black hole scrambles information. Gravity tugs on time in tiny, discrete steps. A phantom-like presence pervades our universe, yet evades detection. These intangible phenomena may seem like mere conjectures of science fiction, but in reality, experimental comprehension is not far, in neither time nor space. Astronomical advances in quantum simulators and quantum sensors will likely be made within the decade, and the leading experiments for black holes, gravitons, and dark matter will be not in space, but in basements – sitting on tables, in a black room lit only by lasers.

PI: Ana Maria Rey | PI: James Thompson
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Atomic & Molecular Physics
Quantum Adventures with Cold Molecules
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Published: September 07, 2017

Researchers at JILA and around the world are starting a grand adventure of precisely controlling the internal and external quantum states of ultracold molecules after years of intense experimental and theoretical study. Such control of small molecules, which are the most complex quantum systems that can currently be completely understood from the principles of quantum mechanics, will allow researchers to probe the quantum interactions of individual molecules with other molecules, investigate what happens to molecules during collisions, and study how molecules behave in chemical reactions. 

PI: Ana Maria Rey | PI: John Bohn | PI: Jun Ye
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Atomic & Molecular Physics
The Ties That Bind
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Published: May 22, 2017

JILA and NIST scientists are hot on the trail of understanding quantum correlations (or entanglement) among groups of quantum particles such as atoms or ions. Such particles are the building blocks of larger and larger chunks of matter that make up the everyday world. Interestingly, correlated atoms and ions exhibit exotic behaviors and accomplish tasks that are impossible for noninteracting particles. Therefore, understanding how entanglement is generated in those systems is not only central to comprehending our world, but also advancing technology.

PI: Ana Maria Rey
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Atomic & Molecular Physics | Precision Measurement
Quantum Leaps
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Published: December 21, 2016

In the Ye group’s new quantum simulation experiment, cold strontium atoms, which are analogs of electrons, are allowed to tunnel between the pancakes that confine the atoms with laser light. Because the atoms moving in an array of pancakes are analogs of electrons moving in solids, such studies are expected to shed light on the complex physics of metals and other solids. Credit:  The Ye group and Steve Burrows, JILA

PI: Ana Maria Rey | PI: Jun Ye
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Atomic & Molecular Physics | Quantum Information Science & Technology
The Beautiful Ballet of Quantum Baseball
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Published: December 12, 2016

The Rey and Ye groups discovered the strange rules of quantum baseball earlier this year. But now, quantum baseball games happen faster, and players (dipolar particles) are no longer free to move or stand wherever they want. Players must not only be stronger to jump and catch the balls (photons), but also more organized. At the same time, they must be good spinners. And, only a small amount of disorder is tolerated! The fast spinning of the players and their fixed positions have made quantum baseball a whole new game!

PI: Ana Maria Rey
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Atomic & Molecular Physics
Going Viral: The Source of a Spin-Flip Epidemic
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Published: November 11, 2016

For a long time, there’s been a mystery concerning how tiny interactions between individual atoms could lead to really big changes in a whole cloud of independent-minded particles. The reason this behavior is mysterious is that the atoms interact weakly, and only when they are very close to each other. Yet, the atoms clear across the cloud seem to know when it’s time to participate in some big-deal quantum behavior such as simultaneously all changing the direction of their spins.

PI: Ana Maria Rey
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Laser Physics
A Quantum Metal Model System
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Published: September 26, 2016

Exciting new theory from the Rey group reveals the profound effects of electron interactions on the flow of electric currents in metals. Controlling currents of strongly interacting electrons is critical to the development of tomorrow’s advanced microelectronics systems, including spintronics devices that will process data faster, use less power than today’s technology, and operate in conditions where quantum effects predominate.

PI: Ana Maria Rey
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Atomic & Molecular Physics
The Ultramodern Molecule Factory: I. Doublons
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Published: April 20, 2016

The old JILA molecule factory (built in 2002) produced the world’s first ultracold polar molecules [potassium-rubidium (KRb)] in 2008. The old factory has been used since then for ultracold chemistry investigations and studies of the quantum behavior of ultracold molecules and the atoms that form them. The Jin-Ye group, which runs the molecule factory, is now wrapping up operations in the old factory with experiments designed to improve operations in the ultramodern factory, which is close to completion.

PI: Ana Maria Rey | PI: Deborah Jin | PI: Jun Ye
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Atomic & Molecular Physics | Precision Measurement
Quantum Baseball
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Published: March 21, 2016

The Ye and Rey groups have discovered the strange rules of quantum baseball in which strontium (Sr) atoms are the players, and photons of light are the balls. The balls control the players by not only getting the atoms excited, but also working together. The players coordinate throwing and catching the balls. While this is going on, the balls can change the state of the players! Sometimes the balls even escape the quantum baseball game altogether and land on detectors in the laboratory.

PI: Ana Maria Rey | PI: Jun Ye
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