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Research Highlights

Published: Thu, 10/04/2018 - 9:15am

JILA researchers are using lasers to control chemical reactions at the quantum level. This control brings new insights to our understanding of reaction pathways, and serves as a proof-of-principle that similar techniques could revolutionize our study of chemical processes.

In the vast stretches between solar systems, heat does not flow and sound does not exist. Action seems to stop, but only if you don’t look long enough.

Violent and chaotic actions occur in the long stretches of outer space. These chemical reactions between radicals and ions are the same reactions underlying the burn of a flame and floating the ozone above our planet. But they’re easy to miss in outer space because they’re very rare.

“It’s very low density in the interstellar medium, so the probability of seeing another atom or molecule is very low,” said JILA Fellow Dr. Heather Lewandowski. “They could go for kilometers before seeing another particle.”

And when meetings are that rare, the particles must be reactive. “If you do run into another particle, you want to have a high probability of reaction if you are ever going to react,” said Lewandowski.

Radicals and ions are...

Published: Oct 21, 2015

Scientists often use ultracold atoms to study the behavior of atoms and electrons in solids and liquids (a.k.a. condensed matter). Their goal is...

Published: Oct 16, 2015

Fellow Phil Armitage and his collaborator Jake Simon of the Southwest Research Institute recently conducted a theoretical study of turbulence in...

Published: Oct 16, 2015

The Perkins Group has demonstrated a 50-to-100 times improvement in the time resolution for studying the details of protein folding and unfolding...

Published: Oct 05, 2015

It took Eric Cornell three years to build JILA’s first Top Trap with his own two hands in the lab. The innovative trap relied primarily on...

Published: Sep 21, 2015

The Kapteyn/Murnane group, with Visiting Fellow Charles Durfee, has figured out how to use visible lasers to control x-ray light! The new method...

Published: Aug 19, 2015

Graduate student Brian Lester of the Regal group has taken an important step toward building larger, more complex systems from single-atom...

Published: Aug 14, 2015

Ever wondered how magnetic pressure alone might be able to maintain the structure of an accretion disk around a black hole in an x-ray binary...

Published: Aug 10, 2015

Compact and transportable optical lattices are coming soon to a laboratory near you, thanks to the Anderson group and its spin-off company,...

Published: Aug 06, 2015

When an ordinary star like our Sun wanders very close to a supermassive black hole, it’s very bad news for the star. The immense gravitational...

Published: Jul 16, 2015

For astrophysicists like Fellow Jeff Linsky, the Lyman-α spectral line of atomic hydrogen is a powerful tool for investigating the stellar winds...

Published: Jul 01, 2015

A grand challenge of ultracold physics is figuring out how fermions become bosons. This is an important question because the tiniest quantum...

Published: May 11, 2015

A wildly successful JILA (Nesbitt Group)-NIH collaboration is opening the door to studies of RNA behavior, including binding, folding and other...

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