Atomic & Molecular Physics

JILA makes major contributions to the field of atomic and molecular physics through the study of the properties, behavior, and interactions of cold and ultracold atoms and molecules. JILA physicists have harnessed abilities to manipulate single atoms and control the interactions of many atoms. They have also made significant advances towards building molecules from ultracold atoms, and cooling existing molecules to the ultracold regime.

Ultracold atoms and molecules comprise novel forms of matter that exist at temperatures below a few millionths of a degree above absolute zero, where the laws of quantum mechanics dominate.
The fields of atomic and molecular physics have enjoyed explosive growth in recent decades because of the ability of theory to accurately describe observed phenomena and give predictive support to experiments. Because JILA physicists tackle atomic and molecular physics from both the theoretical and experimental sides, we have revolutionized and continue to lead these fields.

Researchers in Atomic & Molecular Physics

Photograph of Dana Anderson Dana Z. Anderson
Focus: Quantum Sensors, Precision Measurement Role: Experimentalist
Photograph of Andreas Becker Andreas Becker
Focus: Ultrafast Phenomena, Attosecond Dynamics, Coherent Control Role: Theorist
Photograph of John Bohn John Bohn
Focus: Cold Molecules, Quantum Many-body Systems Role: Theorist
Photograph of Eric Cornell. Eric Cornell
Focus: BEC, Precision Measurement, Molecules, Frequency Combs Role: Experimentalist
Photograph of Daniel Dessau. Daniel Dessau
Focus: Spectroscopist studying electronic structure, magnetic structure, and phase transitions of novel materials systems Role: Experimentalist
Photograph of Agnieszka Jaron-Becker Agnieszka Jaron-Becker
Focus: Theoretical AMO, Ultrafast Laser Science Role: Theorist
Photograph of Henry Kapteyn Henry Kapteyn
Focus: Ultrafast Lasers & X-Rays, Imaging, Chemical Physics, Quantum & Optical Science, Nanoscience, Materials, Molecular Science Role: Experimentalist
Photograph of Adam Kaufman Adam Kaufman
Focus: Many-body physics, Ultracold atoms, Quantum simulation Role: Experimentalist
Photograph of Heather Lewandowski Heather Lewandowski
Focus: Cold Molecules, Chemical Physics Role: Experimentalist
Photograph of David Nesbitt David Nesbitt
Focus: Chemical Physics, Biophysics, Molecular Ions Role: Experimentalist
Photograph of Margaret Murnane Margaret Murnane
Focus: Ultrafast Lasers & X-Rays, Imaging, Chemical Physics, Quantum & Optical Science, Nanoscience, Materials, Molecular Science Role: Experimentalist
Photograph of Cindy Regal Cindy Regal, Baur-SPIE Chair in Optical Physics and Photonics at JILA
Focus: Quantum Nanomechanics, Single Atom Trapping Role: Experimentalist
Photograph of Ana Maria Rey Ana Maria Rey
Focus: Cold Atoms and Molecules, Quantum Many-body Systems, Precision Measurement, Quantum Information Role: Theorist
Photograph of Thomas Schibli Thomas Schibli
Focus: Optics and photonics through advanced functional materials, novel laser systems and measurement techniques Role: Experimentalist
Photograph of James Thompson James Thompson
Focus: Cold Atoms, Quantum Optics and Information, Precision Measurement Role: Experimentalist
Photograph of Jun Ye Jun Ye
Focus: Cold Atoms and Molecules, Frequency Combs, Ultrastable Lasers, Precision Measurement Role: Experimentalist
Shuo Sun photograph. Shuo Sun
Focus: Quantum Optics; Nanophotonics; Solid-state Quantum Information Processing Role: Experimentalist
Jose D'Incao photo. Jose D'Incao
Focus: few-body atomic systems, ultracold gases Role: Theorist
Xun Gao photo. Xun Gao
Role: Theorist

Recent Highlights in Atomic & Molecular Physics

Historically, JILA (a joint institute established by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the University of Colorado Boulder) has been a world leader in precision timekeeping using optical atomic clocks. These clocks harness the intrinsic properties of atoms to measure time with unparalleled precision and accuracy,…

To study nanoscale patterns in tiny electronic or photonic components, a new method based on lensless imaging allows for near-perfect high-resolution microscopy. This is especially important at wavelengths shorter than ultraviolet, which can image with higher spatial resolution than visible light but where image-forming optics are imperfect. …

To engineer materials with unique properties, like superconductivity, scientists dive into the quantum interactions between electrons and vibrational particles called phonons. When electrons and phonons strongly interact, they behave as “quasi” particles, not single isolated particles. These interactions occur on extremely short timescales:…