Research Highlights

Displaying 121 - 140 of 441
Biophysics
Precision Biomechanics
Published: July 21, 2017

The Perkins group has made dramatic advances in the use of Atomic Force Microscopes (AFMs) to study large single biomolecules, such as proteins and nucleic acids (DNA, RNA), that are important for life. After previously improving AFM measurements of biomolecules by orders of magnitude for stability, sensitivity and time response, the Perkins group has now developed ways to make these precision biomechanical measurements up to 100 times faster than previously possible––obtaining useful information in hours to days rather than weeks to months. 

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PI(s):
Thomas Perkins
Laser Physics
Lassoing Colors with Atomic Cowpokes
Published: July 10, 2017

Getting lasers to have a precise single frequency (color) can be trickier than herding cats. So it’s no small accomplishment that the Thompson group has figured out how to use magnetic fields to create atomic cowpokes to wrangle a specific single color into place so that it doesn’t wander hither and yon. The researchers do this with a magnetic field that causes strontium atoms in an optical cavity to stop absorbing light and become transparent to laser light at one specific color. What happens is that the magnetic field creates a transparent window that serves as a gate to let only light of a single frequency pass through.

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PI(s):
James Thompson
Laser Physics | Nanoscience
The Electron Stops When The Bands Play On
Published: June 20, 2017

The Kapteyn-Murnane group has come up with a novel way to use fast bursts of extreme ultraviolet light to capture how strongly electrons interact with each other in materials. This research is important for figuring out how quickly materials can change their state from insulating to conducting, or from magnetic to nonmagnetic. In the future such fast switching may lead to faster and more efficient nanoelectronics.

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PI(s):
Henry Kapteyn | Margaret Murnane
Atomic & Molecular Physics
The Ties That Bind
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.

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PI(s):
Ana Maria Rey
Precision Measurement
The Chameleon Interferometer
Published: April 21, 2017

The Regal group recently met the challenge of measurements in an extreme situation with a device called an interferometer. The researchers succeeded by using creative alterations to the device itself and quantum correlations. Quantum correlations are unique, and often counterintuitive, quantum mechanical interactions that occur among quantum objects such as photons and atoms. The group exploited these interactions in the way they set up their interferometer, and improved its ability to measure tiny motions using photons (particles of light).

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PI(s):
Cindy Regal | Konrad Lehnert
Precision Measurement
The Hunt Is On For The Axion
Published: March 30, 2017

The first results are in from a new search for the axion, a hypothetical particle that may constitute dark matter. Researchers in the Haloscope At Yale Sensitive to Axion Cold Dark Matter (HAYSTAC) recently looked for evidence of the axion, but so far they have found none in the small 100 MHz frequency range between 5.7 and 5.8 GHz.

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PI(s):
Konrad Lehnert
Laser Physics | Nanoscience
The Sharpest Images
Published: March 20, 2017

Dennis Gardner and his coworkers in the Kapteyn-Murnane group accomplished two major breakthroughs in imaging tiny structures much too small to be seen with visible light microscopes: (1) for the first time in the extreme ultraviolet (EUV) or soft X-ray region, they achieved a resolution smaller than the wavelength of the light; and (2) for the first time, they obtained high resolution quantitative imaging of near periodic tiny objects (structures with repetitive features).

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PI(s):
Henry Kapteyn | Margaret Murnane
Astrophysics
The Fast and the Furious
Published: March 03, 2017

The lovely Crab Nebula was created by a supernova and its spinning-neutron-star remnant known as a pulsar. Pulsar wind nebulae, such as the Crab, shine because they contain plasmas of charged particles, such as electrons and positrons, traveling at near the speed of light. A key question in astrophysics has long been: What process accelerates some of the charged particles in plasmas to energies much higher than the average particle energy, giving them near light speeds?

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PI(s):
Mitch Begelman
Biophysics
Vision Quest
Published: March 02, 2017

The Perkins group continues to extend the performance of its unique Atomic Force Microscope (AFM) technology, revealing for the first time a dozen new short-lived intermediate states in the folding and unfolding of a membrane protein that controls the exchange of chemicals and ions into and out of living cells. Measuring the energetics and dynamics of membrane proteins is crucial to understanding normal physiology and disease, and the Perkins group’s observation of multiple new folding/unfolding states shines new light on these cellular “gatekeepers.”

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PI(s):
Thomas Perkins
Atomic & Molecular Physics | Precision Measurement
Quantum Leaps
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

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PI(s):
Ana Maria Rey | Jun Ye
Atomic & Molecular Physics
Molecules at the Quantum Frontier
Published: December 19, 2016

Deborah Jin, Jun Ye, and their students wrote a review during the summer of 2016 for Nature Physics highlighting the accomplishments and future directions of the relatively new field of ultracold-molecule research. The field was pioneered by the group’s creation of the world’s first gas of ultracold potassium-rubidium (KRb) molecules in 2008.

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PI(s):
Deborah Jin | Jun Ye
Astrophysics
Star Model
Published: December 13, 2016

Astrophysicist Jeff Linsky and his colleagues recently created a sophisticated mathematical model of the outer atmosphere of the small M-dwarf star called GJ832. The new model fits well with spectral observations of the star made with the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). This accomplishment bodes well for two reasons: First, it provides a tool for better understanding M-dwarf stars––the most common type of star in our galaxy.

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PI(s):
Jeffrey Linsky
Atomic & Molecular Physics | Quantum Information Science & Technology
The Beautiful Ballet of Quantum Baseball
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!

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PI(s):
Ana Maria Rey
Astrophysics
Dancing with the Stars
Published: November 22, 2016

Galaxy mergers routinely occur in our Universe. And, when they take place, it takes years for the supermassive black holes at their centers to merge into a new, bigger supermassive black hole. However, a very interesting thing can happen when two black holes get close enough to orbit each other every 3–4 months, something that happens just before the two black holes begin their final desperate plunge into each other. 

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PI(s):
Mitch Begelman | Phil Armitage
Chemical Physics
Recreating Fuels from Waste Gas
Published: November 21, 2016

Graduate student Mike Thompson of the Weber group wants to understand the basic science of taking carbon dioxide (CO2) produced by burning fossil fuels and converting it back into useful fuels. People could then use these fuels to generate electricity, heat homes and office buildings, power automobiles and trains, fly airplanes, and drive the industrial processes of modern life.

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PI(s):
J. Mathias Weber
Atomic & Molecular Physics
Going Viral: The Source of a Spin-Flip Epidemic
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.

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PI(s):
Ana Maria Rey
Biophysics
The Red Light District
Published: October 31, 2016

Far-red fluorescent light emitted from proteins could one day illuminate the inner workings of life. But before that happens, scientists like Fellow Ralph Jimenez must figure out how fluorescent proteins’ light-emitting structures work. As part of this effort, Jimenez wants to answer a simple question: How do we design red fluorescent proteins to emit longer-wavelength, or redder, light?

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PI(s):
Ralph Jimenez
Atomic & Molecular Physics | Chemical Physics | Laser Physics
The Radical Comb-Over
Published: October 27, 2016

Using frequency comb spectroscopy, the Ye group has directly observed transient intermediate steps in a chemical reaction that plays a key role in combustion, atmospheric chemistry, and chemistry in the interstellar medium. The group was able to make this first-ever measurement because frequency combs generate a wide range of laser wavelengths in ultrafast pulses. These pulses made it possible for the researchers to “see” every step in the chemical reaction of OH + CO → HOCO → CO2 + H.

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PI(s):
Jun Ye
Chemical Physics
The Ultimate Radar Detector
Published: September 26, 2016

The Nesbitt group has invented a nifty technique for exploring the physics and chemistry of a gas interacting with molecules on the surface of a liquid. The group originally envisioned the technique because it’s impossible to overestimate the importance of understanding surface chemistry. For instance, ozone depletion in the atmosphere occurs because of chemical reactions of hydrochloric acid on the surface of ice crystals and aerosols in the upper atmosphere. Interstellar chemistry takes place on the surface of tiny grains of dust.

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PI(s):
David Nesbitt
Laser Physics
A Quantum Metal Model System
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.

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PI(s):
Ana Maria Rey