Chemical Physics

Chemical physicists at JILA use advanced laser techniques to probe the structure and dynamics of matter during chemical reactions, i.e., during the making and breaking of chemical bonds.

JILA’s chemical physics research includes studies of molecular energy flow and optical/electrical properties of crystals, mapping of electron dynamics in materials and individual molecules, fabrication of nanomaterials, cooling of molecules through Stark deceleration and laser manipulation, and identifying short-lived molecules within interstellar and atmospheric combustion. These research endeavors advance our understanding of chemical reactions and inform the development of new materials.

Researchers in Chemical Physics

Photograph of Ralph Jimenez Ralph Jimenez
Focus: Biophysics, Ultrafast Lasers, Chemical Physics, Microfluidics Role: Experimentalist
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 W. Carl Lineberger W. Carl Lineberger
Focus: Chemical Physics, Molecular Ions 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
Placeholder Person Photo Robert P. Parson
Focus: Theoretical chemical dynamics Role: Theorist
Markus Raschke Markus Raschke
Focus: Ultrafast Nano-optics, Chemical Physics, Nanoscience Role: Experimentalist
Photograph of J. Mathias Weber. J. Mathias Weber
Focus: Chemical Physics, Molecular and Cluster Ions, Materials Role: Experimentalist
Photograph of Jun Ye Jun Ye
Focus: Cold Atoms and Molecules, Frequency Combs, Ultrastable Lasers, Precision Measurement Role: Experimentalist

Recent Highlights in Chemical Physics

Although one might think it would be simple, the genetics of bacteria can be rather complicated. A bacterium’s genes use a set of regulatory proteins and other molecules to monitor and change genetic expressions within the organism. One such mechanism is the riboswitch, a small piece of RNA that can turn a gene “on” or “off.” In order to “flip…

There are many ways to diagnose health conditions. One of the most common methods is blood testing. This sort of test can look for hundreds of different kinds of molecules in the body to determine if an individual has any diseases or underlying conditions. Not everyone is a fan of needles, however, which makes blood tests a big deal for some…

The basic question of how strands of nucleic acids (DNA and RNA) fold and hybridize has been studied thoroughly by biophysicists around the globe. In particular, there can be unexpected challenges in obtaining accurate kinetic data when studying the physics of how DNA and RNA fold and unfold at the single molecule level. One problem comes from…