Research Highlights

Atomic & Molecular Physics | Quantum Information Science & Technology
Dancing through dynamical phase transitions in an out-of-equilibrium state
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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Precision Measurement
Keep it steady
Published: July 29, 2019

It's hard to read a clock with hands that wobble. The Ye Group has found a way to steady their optical atomic clock using a new cavity.

PI: Jun Ye
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Astrophysics
Black Holes Continue to Tear Stars Apart
Published: July 23, 2019

While we've known for a while that black holes could rip stars apart, we don’t know why these events occur so frequently. Now, a model by JILA researchers explaining this discrepancy is shown to be promising after passing its first reality test.

PI: Ann-Marie Madigan
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Biophysics | Precision Measurement
DNA imaging, ready in five minutes
Published: July 16, 2019

It's tough to get tightly-wound balls of DNA to lay down flat and straighten out to get their picture taken. A new technique from the Perkins group gets a crisp, clear picture in just five minutes.

PI: Thomas Perkins
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Laser Physics
The Fastest Vortex in the West
Published: June 26, 2019

Researchers at JILA and the University of Salamanca have found a new property of light, one that creates a whirling vortex that can speed itself up. 

PI: Margaret Murnane
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Quantum Information Science & Technology
Tying Quantum Knots with an Optical Clock
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
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
Optical tweezers achieve new feats of capturing atoms
Published: April 04, 2019

Trapping single atoms is a bit like herding cats, which makes researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder expert feline wranglers. In a new study, a team led by physicist Cindy Regal showed that it could load groups of individual atoms into large grids with an efficiency unmatched by existing methods.  

PI: Cindy Regal
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Laser Physics
The Snowflake of Insulators
Published: March 01, 2019

By using ultrafast lasers to measure the temperature of electrons, JILA researchers have discovered a never-before-seen state in an otherwise standard semiconductor. This research is the most recent demonstration of a new technique, called ultrafast electron calorimetry, which uses light to manipulate well-known materials in new ways.

PI: Margaret Murnane | PI: Henry Kapteyn
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Biophysics
Pulling apart HIV
Published: February 27, 2019

JILA researchers have demonstrated a much easier, faster and more precise way to understand the structure and function of the HIV RNA molecule, especially the HIV RNA hairpin. Furthermore, the techniques developed for this research promise to allow a wider range of users to study similar biological molecules, as they are built upon commercially available and user-friendly atomic force microscopes, or AFMs.

PI: Thomas Perkins
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Atomic & Molecular Physics
Buckyballs Play by Quantum Rules
Published: February 22, 2019

When the Ye group measured the total quantum state of buckyballs, we learned that this large molecule can play by full quantum rules. Specifically, this measurement resolved the rotational states of the buckyball, making it the largest and most complex molecule to be understood at this level.

PI: Jun Ye
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Atomic & Molecular Physics
The Strontium Optical Tweezer
Published: January 25, 2019

JILA researchers have, for the first time, trapped a single alkaline-earth atom and cooled it to its ground state. To trap this atom, researchers used an optical tweezer, which is a laser focused to a pinpoint that can hold, move and manipulate atoms. The full motional and electronic control wielded by this tool enables microscopically precise studies of the limiting factors in many of today’s forefront physics experiments, especially quantum information science and metrology. 

PI: Adam Kaufman
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Atomic & Molecular Physics
The First Quantum Degenerate Polar Molecules
Published: January 18, 2019

Understanding chemistry requires understanding both molecules and quantum physics. The former defines the start and end of chemical reactions, the latter dictates the dynamics in between. JILA researchers now have a better understanding of both.

PI: Jun Ye
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Atomic & Molecular Physics
Taming Chemistry at the Quantum Level
Published: October 04, 2018

In the vast stretches between solar systems, heat does not flow and sound does not exist. Action seems to stop, but only if you don’t look long enough. Violent and chaotic actions occur in the long stretches of outer space. These chemical reactions between radicals and ions are the same reactions underlying the burn of a flame and floating the ozone above our planet. But they’re easy to miss in outer space because they’re very rare.

PI: Heather Lewandowski
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Quantum Information Science & Technology
Quiet Drumming: Reducing Noise for the Quantum Internet
Published: September 24, 2018

Quantum computers are set to revolutionize society. With their expansive power and speed, quantum computers could reduce today’s impossibly complex problems, like artificial intelligence and weather forecasts, to mere algorithms. But as revolutionary as the quantum computer will be, its promises will be stifled without the right connections. Peter Burns, a JILA graduate student in the Lehnert/Regal lab, likens this stifle to a world without Wi-Fi.  

PI: Cindy Regal | PI: Graeme Smith | PI: Konrad Lehnert
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Laser Physics
Turn it Up to 11 – The XUV Comb
Published: September 04, 2018

With the advent of the laser, the fuzzy bands glowing from atoms transformed into narrow lines of distinct color. These spectral lines became guiding beacons visible from the quantum frontier. More than a half century later, we stand at the next frontier. The elegant physics that will decode today’s mysteries (such as dark matter, dark energy, and the stability of our fundamental constants, to name a few) is still shrouded in shadows. But a new tool promises illumination. 

PI: Jun Ye
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Atomic & Molecular Physics | Precision Measurement | Quantum Information Science & Technology
Twisting Atoms to Push Quantum Limits
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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Laser Physics
A Collaborative Mastery of X-rays
Published: July 18, 2018

The hardest problems are never solved by one person. They are solved by teams; or in the case of science, collaborations. It took a collaboration of 17 researchers, including four JILA fellows and another six JILA affiliates, just a little over five years to achieve robust polarization control over isolated attosecond (one billionth of a billionth of a second) pulses of extreme-ultraviolet light. 

PI: Andreas Becker | PI: Agnieszka Jaron-Becker | PI: Henry Kapteyn | PI: Margaret Murnane
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Atomic & Molecular Physics
A Little Less Spontaneous
Published: June 29, 2018

A large fraction of JILA research relies on laser cooling of atoms, ions and molecules for applications as diverse as world-leading atomic clocks, human-controlled chemistry, quantum information, new forms of ultracold matter and the search for new details of the origins of the universe. JILAns use laser cooling every day in their research, and have mastered arcane details of the process.

PI: James Thompson | PI: Murray Holland
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Chemical Physics
An Electron Faucet
Published: June 28, 2018

JILA researchers have created a laser-controlled "electron faucet", which emits a stable stream of low-energy electrons. These faucets have many applications for ultrafast switches and ultrafast electron imaging. The electron faucet starts with gold, spherical nanoshells. “They are glass cores with a thin, gold layer over them,” said Jacob Pettine, the graduate student on the project. These nanoshells are truly on the nanoscale, measuring less than 150 nanometers in diameter, which is “something like a thousandth of the size of a human hair,” said Pettine.

PI: David Nesbitt
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