Precision Measurement

Precision-measurement tools help scientists understand the universe, often through ground-breaking discoveries.

JILA physicists are at the forefront of efforts to invent and redefine tools for precision measurement. The tools developed at JILA are capable of probing tiny structures inside living cells, monitor the dynamics of chemical reactions, and directly measure the frequency of visible light. 

Historically, precision measurements at JILA helped pave the way for redefining the speed the light, defining the gravitational constant, and develop a universal constant time-keeping system. Current research into precision measurements at JILA could redefine the standard model of physics, realize the quantization of gravity, detect the astronomical collisions of black holes, search for evidence of dark matter, and even evolve our understanding of DNA and proteins, and the subsequent diseases that develop from their misfoldings.

Researchers in Precision Measurement

Photograph of Dana Anderson Dana Z. Anderson
Focus: Quantum Sensors, Precision Measurement Role: Experimentalist
Photograph of Eric Cornell Eric Cornell
Focus: BEC, Precision Measurement, Molecules, Frequency Combs Role: Experimentalist
Photograph of Murray Holland Murray Holland
Focus: Quantum Optics, Cold Atoms Role: Theorist
Photograph of Konrad Lehnert Konrad Lehnert
Focus: Quantum Nanomechanics, Microwave Quantum Optics, Mesoscopic Physics Role: Experimentalist
Photograph of Judah Levine Judah Levine
Focus: Methods for distributing precise time and frequency information 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 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

Recent Highlights in Precision Measurement

  • In a significant advance toward the future redefinition of the international unit of time, the second, a research team led by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has compared three of the world’s leading atomic clocks with record accuracy over both air and optical fiber links.
     

  • JILA is the host of multiple centers within its campus. Some are National Science Foundation (NSF) funded and others funded by more private centers. Each center focuses on specific topics to advance the knowledge, education, and research on some of the biggest ideas within physics. 
     

  • For nearly a century, scientists have worked to unravel the mystery of dark matter—an elusive substance that spreads through the universe and likely makes up much of its mass, but has so far proven impossible to detect in experiments. Now, a team of researchers have used an innovative technique called “quantum squeezing” to dramatically speed up the search for one candidate for dark matter in the lab.