December 18, 2023: Senator Hickenlooper Discusses Quantum Computing's Role in Boosting Colorado's Economy at Latest JILA Visit
Senator Hickenlooper (center) talks to JILA's instrument shop head Kyle Thatcher (left) and JILA instrument maker Hans Green (right).

In a recent significant visit to JILA, a joint institute established by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the University of Colorado Boulder, U.S. Senator John Hickenlooper discussed the transformative potential of quantum computing on Colorado's economy, job industry, and educational sector. The visit underscored the state's growing prominence in the quantum technology landscape.

December 11, 2023: Groundbreaking "Tabletop" Physics Experiments Receive Major Funding, with JILA and NIST Fellow Jun Ye Leading Key Project
JILA's three-dimensional (3-D) quantum gas atomic clock consists of a grid of light formed by three pairs of laser beams. Multiple lasers of various colors are used to cool the atoms, trap them in a grid of light, and probe them for clock operation. A blue laser beam excites a cube-shaped cloud of strontium atoms. Strontium atoms fluorescence strongly when excited with blue light, as seen in the upper right corner behind the vacuum window.

In an exciting turn for physics research, four major foundations have announced a collaborative funding effort for 11 pioneering "tabletop" experiments. The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Simons Foundation, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and the John Templeton Foundation have come together, committing a total of $30 million. This unique initiative focuses on supporting experiments that, despite their relatively modest scale, are set to delve into areas often reserved for large-scale facilities.

Among the funded projects, each of which will receive up to five years of financial support, is a particularly notable experiment led by JILA and NIST Fellow Jun Ye and his research team. Known for his remarkable work in physics, Ye's project stands out for its ambition and innovative approach. The experiment involves the development of ultra-precise atomic clocks, which are expected to significantly advance our understanding of both quantum mechanics and general relativity.

November 15, 2023: JILA and NIST Fellow Jun Ye Awarded 2023 Highly Cited Researcher Designation
JILA and NIST Fellow Jun Ye has been awarded a 2023 Highly Cited Researcher Designation

In a prestigious acknowledgment of scientific impact, JILA and NIST Fellow Jun Ye has been awarded the 2023 "Highly Cited" researcher designation from Clarivate. This notable recognition is bestowed upon researchers whose work ranks in the top 1% of citations for their field, highlighting their significant influence in the scientific community. 

October 23, 2023: JILA Graduate Students Qizhong Liang and Drew Morrill Win Colorado Photonics Industry Association Poster Contest
JILA graduate students Qizhong Liang and Drew Morrill receiving awards for their poster presentations at CPIA

Every year, the Colorado Photonics Industry Association (CPIA) holds a university meeting where students from several of Colorado's prominent universities present their work as a poster to an industry audience, followed by networking with potential employers. For students, it's an excellent opportunity to practice public speaking, share their current research projects, and find potential industry jobs. Each year, three students are awarded a cash prize for how well they communicate their research and the design of their poster. 

This year, JILA graduate students Qizhong Liang, from JILA and NIST Fellow Jun Ye's research group, and Drew Morrill, from JILA Fellows Margaret Murnane's and Henry Kapteyn's research group, have been awarded prizes for their poster presentations. 

August 24, 2023: JILA and NIST Fellows Jun Ye's and Eric Cornell's eEDM Research Highlighted in "Physics World"
The researchers used an ion trap to measure the electron electric dipole moment in hafnium fluoride ions

JILA and NIST Fellows Jun Ye and Eric Cornell's recent research on advancing electron electric dipole moment (eEDM) measurements has been highlighted in Physics World. 

August 16, 2023: JILA and NIST Fellow Jun Ye's Research is Highlighted in a New University of Colorado Boulder Start Up Program
Photo of Jun Ye

Around 150 promising inventions are generated annually within the University of Colorado Boulder. To support these inventions, the Venture Partners at CU Boulder organization established the Embark Deep Tech Startup Creator, an accelerator program for start-up companies coming out of CU Boulder. This year, Venture Partners at CU Boulder announced the Embark Entrepreneurs in Residence cohort. This cohort pairs entrepreneurs with promising inventions. 

In the case of JILA, entrepreneur Eva Yao will lead FLARI in bringing to market a breathalyzer capable of detecting molecules in breath or air samples invented by Jun Ye for fast detection of diseases and contaminants. 

June 08, 2023: Humans of JILA: Alexander Aeppli
JILA graduate student Alexander Aeppli stands next to the strontium atomic clock in JILA and NIST Fellow Jun Ye's laboratory

JILA graduate student Alexander Aeppli is one of a team of researchers working on the world’s most precise clocks. In the laboratory of JILA and NIST Fellow Jun Ye, Aeppli focuses on improving the strontium atomic clock using powerful ultrastable lasers. “The laser drives an electronic transition in strontium,” Aeppli explained. “And we want to make sure the transition within the strontium is exact.” Before the transition occurs, the strontium atoms are trapped within an optical lattice inside the clock. Once trapped, the strontium atoms can transition when exposed to a particular color (or frequency) of light, and the researchers, like Aeppli, measure this transition frequency as a form of timekeeping. The frequency can then be used as the precise standard of time worldwide.  

May 12, 2023: JILA Breathalyzer Research Highlighted in Scientific American
A versatile tool called an optical frequency comb can detect the signatures of diseases like COVID-19 in exhaled breath. Credit: Jasmina81/Getty Images

JILA and NIST Fellows David Nesbitt's and Jun Ye's recent results in their breathalyzer study have been highlighted in a new article in Scientific American. Using frequency combs, a particular type of laser array, scientists could detect specific molecules in the breath, including diseases like COVID-19. This research suggests huge implications for the future of disease diagnosis and prevention. 

April 21, 2023: U.S. Department of Defense under secretary visits JILA
JILA Fellow Dana Anderson presenting to DOD's under secretary Shyu

Heidi Shyu, undersecretary of defense for research and engineering at the U.S. Department of Defense, visited JILA and the University of Colorado Boulder on Monday to glimpse the future of cutting-edge research.

From the university’s proximity to national laboratories and quantum-intensive companies to the high volume of pioneering alumni, CU Boulder has long been a leader in the quantum space. This legacy has led to a push in innovation and technology, including as it pertains to national security—a goal also shared by Shyu and the Department of Defense.

April 19, 2023: JILA and NIST Fellows Jun Ye's and David Nesbitt's Frequency Comb Breathalyzer Apparatus Highlighted in SPIE Photonics West Show Daily
Image of Ye's and Nesbitt's Frequency Comb Breathalyzer setup

JILA and NIST Fellows Jun Ye and David Nesbitt, along with their respective teams, have recently been highlighted in the latest issue of the SPIE Photonics West Show Daily, a publication from SPIE. This highlight focuses on the recent advancements in the frequency comb breathalyzer apparatus that the researchers have built and tested, which looks at diagnosing COVID-19 and other diseases.

April 11, 2023: New laser-based breathalyzer sniffs out COVID, other diseases in real-time
Photo of person using breathalyzer.

With each breath, humans exhale more than 1,000 distinct molecules, producing a unique chemical fingerprint or “breathprint” rich with clues about what’s going on inside the body. For decades, scientists have sought to harness that information, turning to dogs, rats and even bees to literally sniff out cancer, diabetes, tuberculosis and more. This week, scientists from the University of Colorado Boulder and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) made an important leap forward in the quest to diagnose disease using exhaled breath, reporting that a new laser-based breathalyzer powered by artificial intelligence (AI) can detect COVID-19 in real-time with excellent accuracy.

March 21, 2023: NIST and the Department of Commerce Awards JILA and NIST Fellows Jun Ye and Judah Levine with Gold and Silver Medals
JILA and NIST Fellows Jun Ye and Judah Levine have been awarded Gold and Silver Medals

Every year the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Department of Commerce (DOC) grant honor awards in the form of Gold, Silver, and Bronze Medals. According to the DOC website: “the Gold and Silver Medals are the highest and second highest honor granted by the Secretary for distinguished and exceptional performance.” Two of JILA’s Fellows, Jun Ye, and Judah Levine, have been awarded these medals.

December 22, 2022: JILA, NIST Fellow, and University of Colorado Boulder Professor Jun Ye is appointed to the National Quantum Initiative Advisory Committee
The quantum seal for the U.S. Government

JILA, NIST Fellow, and University of Colorado Boulder Professor Jun Ye has been appointed to the National Quantum Initiative Advisory Committee. In a recent announcement, President Biden advanced the National Quantum Initiative by appointing fifteen experts in quantum information science to the National Quantum Initiative Advisory Committee (NQIAC), with Ye being one of the members. 

December 22, 2022: JILA, NIST Fellow, and University of Colorado Boulder Professor Jun Ye is awarded a 2022 Department of Commerce Gold Medal
Photo of Jun Ye

JILA and NIST Fellow as well as University of Colorado Boulder Professor Dr. Jun Ye has been awarded a 2022 Gold Medal from the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC). The gold medal is the highest honorary award given by the DOC and "is granted by the Secretary for distinguished performance characterized by extraordinary, notable, or prestigious contributions that impact the mission of the Department and/or one or more operating units," according to the DOC. 

October 17, 2022: Humans of JILA: Dhruv Kedar
Graduate student Dhruv Kedar explains the laser set up within JILA and NIST Fellow Jun Ye's laboratory

Walk down to the basement labs of JILA and you're sure to find something interesting. From atomic clocks to biophysics, researchers are hard at work advancing scientific and technological frontiers. One of these researchers is graduate student Dhruv Kedar. Kedar works in JILA and NIST Fellow Jun Ye's lab, focusing on laser development for a range of applications including optical atomic clocks and optical timescales. “We're really just trying to make the world's best lasers as part of the atomic clock,” explained Kedar. “We do a good job of isolating out any sort of environmental effects so the atomic frequency of the clock doesn't change but gets more precise.” As optical atomic clocks use a series of lasers to control and measure the quantum state evolution inside an atom, which will redefine the SI unit of Second in the foreseeable future, improving the lasers to be themselves free of environmental noise is an important task. 

July 13, 2022: Jun Ye is awarded the Department of Defense 2022 Vannevar Bush Faculty Fellowship
Jun Ye

The DoD announced today the selection of nine distinguished faculty scientists and engineers for the 2022 Class of Vannevar Bush Faculty Fellows (VBFF). This highly competitive Fellowship is named in honor of Dr. Vannevar Bush, who directed the Office of Scientific Research and Development after World War II. In line with Dr. Bush’s vision, the Fellowship aims to advance transformative, university-based fundamental research.

“The Vannevar Bush Faculty Fellowship is the Department’s most prestigious research grant award,” said Dr. Jean-Luc Cambier, the VBFF Program Director. “It is oriented towards bold and ambitious ‘blue sky’ research that will lead to extraordinary outcomes that may revolutionize entire disciplines, create entirely new fields, or disrupt accepted theories and perspectives.” JILA and NIST Fellow Jun Ye has been distinguished as one of the 2022 Fellows. 

July 12, 2022: Celebrating 60 Years of JILA
JILA's custom logo commemorating its 60th anniversary

This year, JILA celebrates its 60th anniversary. Officially established on April 13, 1962, as a joint institution between the University of Colorado Boulder and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), JILA has become a world leader in physics research. Its rich history includes three Nobel laureates, groundbreaking work in laser development, atomic clocks, underlying dedication to precision measurement, and even competitive sports leagues. The process of creating this science goliath was not always straightforward and took the dedication and hard work of many individuals.

April 19, 2022: Life After JILA with Alumnus Mike Martin
Mike Martin, Staff Scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory

“It's hard to imagine my career without JILA,” explained Mike Martin, staff scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Martin first arrived at CU in 2006, as a graduate student. “I began working with [JILA and NIST Fellow] Jun Ye in 2007,” he said. “My work was in frequency metrology for precision measurement and timekeeping.” During Martin's stint at JILA, he explained that he helped work on the early development of the frequency comb. As time continued, his work expanded to include studying the strontium lattice clock. “At the time there was only one strontium apparatus in Jun’s lab,” he said. “And around 10 people or so were all studying it.” This allowed him to collaborate with many other colleagues on the science behind the clock. 

December 08, 2021: Recently Graduated JILA Undergraduate Antonio Vigil wins the CU Boulder "Outstanding Undergraduate"
Photo of Antonio Vigil

Antonio Vigil, a recently graduated JILA undergraduate has been named an "Outstanding Undergraduate" by the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder. Vigil recently graduated summa cum laude after working for three years at JILA. 

November 18, 2021: Jun Ye Wins the 2022 Herbert-Walther Award
Photo of Jun Ye

JILA and NIST Fellow Jun Ye has been awarded the 2022 Herbert-Walther-Award from the German Physical Society and OPTICA (formerly OSA). This award recognizes distinguished contributions in quantum optics and atomic physics as well as leadership in the international scientific community.