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Ultracold Atoms

Content About: Ultracold Atoms

Published: 04/21/2016 - 8:24am Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

Move over, single-atom laser cooling! The Holland theory group has just come up with a stunning idea for a new kind of laser cooling for use with ensembles of atoms that all “talk” to each other. In other words, the theory looks at laser cooling not from the perspective of cooling a single atom, but rather from the perspective of many atoms working together to rapidly cool themselves to a...

Published: 01/28/2016 - 7:52am Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

The Rey and Ye groups are in the midst of an extended collaboration on using the Ye group’s strontium (Sr) lattice clock for studies of spin-orbit coupling in pancake-like layers of cold Sr atoms. Spin-orbit coupling means an atom’s motion is correlated with its spin. It occurs in everyday materials when negatively charged electrons move in response to electromagnetic fields inside a crystal....

Published: 10/21/2015 - 8:02am Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

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 to uncover microscopic quantum behavior of these condensed matter systems and develop a controlled environment to model materials with new and advanced functionality.

In an exciting new theory investigation, Fellow Ana Maria Rey and research...

Published: 10/05/2015 - 9:56am Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

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 magnetic fields and gravity to trap ultracold atoms. In 1995, Cornell and his colleagues used the Top Trap to make the world’s first Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC), an achievement that earned Cornell and Carl Wieman the Nobel Prize in 2001.

The Nobel...

Published: 08/10/2015 - 8:22am Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

Compact and transportable optical lattices are coming soon to a laboratory near you, thanks to the Anderson group and its spin-off company, ColdQuanta. A new robust on-chip lattice system (which measures 2.3 cm on a side) is now commercially available. The chip comes with a miniature vacuum system, lasers, and mounting platform.

Graduate student Cameron Straatsma and his colleagues...

Published: 07/20/2015 - 8:16am Type of Content: News

Deborah Jin has been selected as chair-elect of the American Physical Society (APS) Nominating Committee. Beginning January 1, 2016, she will serve one year as Chair Elect, a year as Chair, and a year as Past Chair of the committee. The committee is charged with preparing a slate of at least two candidates for the positions of Vice President, Treasurer, Chair Elect of the Nominating Committee...

Published: 07/01/2015 - 11:00am Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

A grand challenge of ultracold physics is figuring out how fermions become bosons. This is an important question because the tiniest quantum particles of matter are all fermions. However, these fermions can form larger chunks of matter, such as atoms and molecules, which can be either fermions or bosons.

An interesting feature of fermions and bosons is that they behave very differently...

Published: 11/13/2014 - 2:56pm Type of Content: Video Gallery

JILA Fellow Dana Anderson was one of six awardees of the 2014 Governor’s Award for High-Impact Research. The prestigious award & celebration:

Recognizes the achievement and global impact of some of Colorado’s top federal scientists and the leadership and excellence of the state’s federal  labs Provides a unique opportunity to connect with Colorado’s leading scientists, lab...
Published: 11/03/2014 - 11:29am Type of Content: News

At the nearby University of Colorado Boulder [Ye Lab] is a clock even more precise than the [clock used for the U.S. Time standard].

At the heart of this new clock is the element strontium. Inside a small chamber, the strontium atoms are suspended in a lattice of crisscrossing laser beams. Researchers then give them a little ping, like ringing a bell. The strontium vibrates at an...

Published: 07/09/2014 - 12:20pm Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

The spooky quantum property of entanglement is set to become a powerful tool in precision measurement, thanks to researchers in the Thompson group. Entanglement means that the quantum states of something physical—two atoms, two hundred atoms, or two million atoms—interact and retain a connection, even over long distances.

Even without exploiting entanglement, atoms are already used...

Published: 07/01/2014 - 9:47am Type of Content: News

Deborah Jin has won the 2014 Isaac Newton Medal, the highest accolade given by the Institute of Physics. She was cited for her experimental work in laser cooling atoms. This work has led to the practical demonstration of universal laws that underpin fundamental quantum behavior. 

"Professor Jin is an outstanding, clever, creative scientist," said Prof. Ed Hinds of the Imperial...

Published: 06/26/2014 - 2:02pm Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

Graduate student Adam Kaufman and his colleagues in the Regal and Rey groups have demonstrated a key first step in assembling quantum matter one atom at a time. Kaufman accomplished this feat by laser-cooling two atoms of rubidium (87Rb) trapped in separate laser beam traps called optical tweezers. Then, while maintaining complete control over the atoms to be sure they were identical in every...

Published: 03/13/2014 - 7:45am Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

Quantum chaos just showed up in an ultracold gas of erbium atoms, and the Bohn theory group knows why. Theorists expect quantum chaos to appear when quantum mechanical objects get sufficiently complicated. But until now, scientists hadn’t realized that something as simple as a pair of colliding atoms could be complicated enough for quantum chaos to appear. For instance, the Bohn group has...

Published: 01/16/2014 - 10:44am Type of Content: News

Deborah Jin has been awarded the 2014 Comstock Prize in Physics by the National Academy of Sciences. The Comstock Prize recognizes an innovative discovery by a North American resident in the fields of electricity, magnetism, or radiant energy.

Jin received this year’s Comstock Prize for “demonstrating quantum degeneracy and the formation of a molecular Bose-Einstein condensate in...

Published: 01/13/2014 - 8:15am Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

The Cornell and Jin groups have just met the challenge of creating and studying an extremely strongly interacting Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC). This feat was reported in Nature Physics online January 12, 2014. An example of an ordinary weakly interacting Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC) is a quantum gas of rubidium atoms (85Rb) all piled up in a little ball whose temperature is a chilly 10 nK...

Published: 11/04/2013 - 2:36pm Type of Content: News

Eric Cornell offered clever and interesting insights into ultracold matter as part of David Pogue’s Making Stuff Colder, aired on PBS on October 30, 2013. The show’s premise is taking a journey down a thermometer to lower and lower temperatures to see what new discoveries in science and technology are taking place as things get colder.  It’s a delightful trip. JILAns, in particular, will...

Published: 11/04/2013 - 2:50pm Type of Content: Video Gallery

On this PBS edition of the program NOVA, Making Stuff Colder, JILA Fellow and Nobel Laureate Eric Cornell talks with host David Pogue about ultracold science.  Appearing in the video at about 32:30 and throughout in audio commentary, Eric helps the audience understand the value to scientific discovery of working at near-zero Kelvin temperatures.

Published: 02/27/2013 - 10:15am Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

Ana Maria Rey’s group is devising new theoretical methods to help experimentalists use ultracold atoms, ions, and molecules to model quantum magnetism in solids. Research associate Kaden Hazzard, former research associate Salvatore Manmana, newly minted Ph.D. Michael Foss-Feig, and Fellow Rey are working on developing new tools to understand these models, which describe both solids and...

Published: 02/27/2013 - 10:20am Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

When experimental physicists at Penn State were unable to observe some of the predicted behaviors of ultracold rubidium (Rb) atoms expanding inside a two-dimensional crystal of light, they turned to their theorist colleagues at the City University of New York and JILA for an explanation. Graduate student Shuming Li and Fellow Ana Maria Rey were happy to oblige.

A theoretical model of...

Published: 11/01/2012 - 9:33am Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

The Jin and Cornell groups have discovered irrefutable evidence for the contact. The contact appears in ultracold gases under conditions when the atoms are close “contact” in a Bose-Einstein condensate, or BEC.  Like pressure, volume, and temperature, the contact is an important property of ultracold ensembles of atoms.  The contact is particularly important when the atoms interact...

Published: 04/10/2013 - 11:42am Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

Members of the Jin group found a way to measure for the first time the a type of abstract “surface” in a gas of ultracold atoms that had been predicted in 1926 but not previously observed. Jin and her colleagues are leading researchers in the field of ultracold Fermi gases made up of thousands to millions of fermions.

Fermions, including electrons and some types of atoms such as...

Published: 02/20/2012 - 5:00pm Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

The Greene group has just discovered some weird quantum states of ultracold fermions that are also dipoles. Dipoles are particles with small positively and negatively charged ends. Atoms (or molecules) that are fermions cannot occupy the same quantum state — unlike the neighborly bosons that readily occupy the same state and form Bose-Einstein condensates at ultracold temperatures. The...

Published: 07/14/2011 - 6:00pm Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

Theoretical physicists recently combined two powerful tools for exploring ultracold atomic gases: Optical lattices and Feshbach resonances. Optical lattices are crystals of light formed by interacting laser beams. Feshbach resonances in an ultracold atom gas occur at a particular magnetic field strength and cause ultracold atoms to form very large, loosely associated molecules. However,...

Published: 06/13/2011 - 6:00pm Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

There’s exciting news in the field of Efimov physics!

It’s been more than 40 years since Russian theoretical physicist Vitaly Efimov predicted a strange form of matter called the Efimov state in 1970. In these strange states, three atoms can stick together in an infinite number of new quantum states, even though any two of the atoms can’t even form a molecule. For a long time,...

Published: 02/23/2011 - 5:00pm Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

Putting the brakes on a superfluid dipolar Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC) just got a whole lot more interesting. Last year, the Bohn theory group explored what would occur in a dipolar BEC when a laser probe — think of it like a finger — tickled a BEC just hard enough to excite a roton. (see JILA Light & Matter, Summer 2010).

The roton is a strange type of quasi...

Published: 08/17/2010 - 6:00pm Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

In 2008, the Deborah Jin Group introduced a new technique, known as atom photoemission spectroscopy, to study a strongly interacting ultracold gas cloud of potassium (40K) atoms at the crossover point between Bose-Einstein condensation and superfl uidity via the pairing of fermionic atoms (See JILA Light & Matter, Summer 2008). Near the crossover point, the physics of superfl uidity in an...

Published: 08/17/2010 - 6:00pm Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

The Bohn group has just come up with an exciting, really complicated experiment for someone else to do. This is something theorists like graduate student Ryan Wilson, former research associate Shai Ronen, and Fellow John Bohn get a kick out of. In this case, they’re recommending an experiment to measure how fast a tiny blue laser would have to move through a dipolar Bose-Einstein condensate (...

Published: 04/08/2010 - 6:00pm Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

The Dana Z. Anderson group has developed a microchip-based system that not only rapidly produces Bose-Einstein condensates (BECs), but also is compact and transportable. The complete working system easily fits on an average-sized rolling cart. This technology opens the door to using ultracold matter in gravity sensors, atomic clocks, inertial sensors, as well as in electric- and magnetic-field...

Published: 02/09/2010 - 5:00pm Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

The race to measure the electron’s electric dipole moment (eEDM) is picking up speed across the world, thanks to graduate student Ed Meyer of JILA’s Lazy Bohn’s Ranch (i.e., John Bohn’s theory group). Meyer has identified more than a dozen horses, a.k.a. molecules and molecular ions, with strong enough internal electric fields to compete in the eEDM derby. Imperial...

Published: 07/08/2009 - 6:00pm Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

The new molecules are as big as a virus. They’re ultracold. And, they’re held together by a ghostly quantum mechanical force field with the energy of about 100 billionths of an electron volt.

These strange diatomic rubidium (Rb) molecules are the world’s first long-range Rydberg molecules. They were recently formed in Tilman Pfau’s laboratory at the University of Stuttgart from an...

Published: 07/08/2009 - 6:00pm Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

The most peculiar and fragile "molecules" ever discovered are the weakly bound triatomic Efimov molecules that form under specific conditions in a Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC). JILA theorists have now shown that such molecules can interact with an additional atom to form "daughter" molecules, which inherit many of their mother’s characteristics.

What...

Published: 04/08/2009 - 6:00pm Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

Starting with ultracold atoms in a Bose-Einstein condensate, it’s possible to create coherent superpositions of atoms and molecules. Fellow Carl Wieman and others have done exactly this. Recently, the Jin group wondered if it would be possible to accomplish the same thing starting with a normal gas cloud of atoms. To spice up the experiment, they included two kinds of atoms: neighborly...

Published: 04/08/2009 - 6:00pm Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

The Greene group just figured out everything you theoretically might want to know about four fermions "crashing" into each other at low energies. Low energies in this context mean ultracold temperatures under conditions where large, floppy Feshbach molecules form. The group decided to investigate four fermions because this number makes up the smallest ultracold few-body system exhibiting...

Published: 02/09/2009 - 5:00pm Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

A while back, former graduate student Scott Papp, graduate student Juan Pino, and Fellow Carl Wieman decided to see what would happen as they changed the magnetic field around a mixture of two different rubidium (Rb) isotopes during Bose-Einstein condensation. They assumed that the interactions between the atoms would change. They also expected they would observe two distinct condensates at...

Published: 07/08/2008 - 6:00pm Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

The Jin group recently came up with the first strong experimental link between superfluidity in ultracold Fermi gases and superconductivity in metals. What’s more, this feat was accomplished with photoemission spectroscopy, a tried-and-true technique that has been used for more than 100 years to study solids. This technique has been instrumental in revealing the properties of superconductors....

Published: 07/08/2008 - 6:00pm Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

What happens to a Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC) when its atoms interact strongly? One possibility for large attractive interactions is that the condensate shrinks and then explodes, as the Cornell and Wieman groups discovered in 2001. Another possibility for large repulsive interactions is behavior analogous to that of superfluid liquid helium. If superfluid liquid heliumlike dynamics could...

Published: 09/29/2007 - 6:00pm Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

In the quantum world inside Fellow Eric Cornell’s lab, communication occurs across a two-dimensional lattice array of Bose-Einstein condensates (BECs) when atoms tunnel out of superatoms (made from about 7000 garden-variety rubidium (Rb) atoms) into neighboring BECs. This communication keeps the array coherent, i.e., the phases of all condensates remain locked to each other. But something...

Published: 04/08/2007 - 6:00pm Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

A Fermi sea forms at ultracold temperatures when fermions in a dilute gas stack up in the lowest possible energy states, with two fermions in each state, one spin up and one spin down. New analytic techniques for diving headfirst into the fundamental physics of this exotic form of matter were recently developed by graduate students Seth Rittenhouse and Javier von Stecher, Fellow Chris Greene,...

Published: 04/08/2007 - 6:00pm Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

Small changes in the quantum fluctuations of free space are responsible for a variety of curious phenomena: a gecko’s ability to walk across ceilings, the evaporation of black holes via Hawking radiation, and the fact that warmer surfaces can be stickier than cold ones in micro- and nanoscale electromechanical systems (MEMS and NEMS). The tendency of tiny parts to stick together is a...

Published: 04/08/2007 - 6:00pm Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

JILA Fellow Dana Z. Anderson, JILA visiting scientist Alex Zozulya, and a colleague from the Worcester Polytechnic Institute postulate that the ultracold coherent atoms in a Bose-Einstein Condensate (BEC) could be configured to act like electrons in a transistor. An “atom transistor” would exhibit absolute and differential gain, as well as allow for the movement of single atoms to be resolved...

Published: 02/09/2007 - 5:00pm Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

Scientists anticipate that cold molecules will allow them to explore all kinds of exciting new cold-matter physics. For instance, cold molecules should be able to interact with each other over much longer distances than atoms. They often exhibit an uneven distribution of electric charge called a dipole moment. Unfortunately, the complicated structures of ordinary "warm" molecules means it is...

Published: 02/09/2007 - 5:00pm Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

JILA physicists are investigating complex and interesting materials, circuits, and devices based on ultracold atoms instead of electrons. Collectively known as atomtronics, they have important theoretical advantages over conventional electronics, including (1) superfluidity and superconductivity, (2) minimal thermal noise and instability, and (3) coherent flow. With such characteristics,...

Published: 09/29/2006 - 6:00pm Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

Does the electron have an electric dipole moment (eEDM)? If it does, the standard model of elementary particle physics says this dipole moment is many orders of magnitude below what can be measured experimentally. As Fellow John Bohn quips, "It's a darn small one."

On the other hand, various extensions of the standard model predict a much larger eEDM that might be just within reach of a...

Published: 09/29/2006 - 6:00pm Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

What do fermions in atomic nuclei, neutron stars, and ultracold trapped gases have in common? They have the same fundamental behavior. The exciting news is that there's now hard evidence that this is true, thanks to graduate students Jayson Stewart and John Gaebler, Cindy Regal who received her Ph.D. in physics in November, and Fellow Debbie Jin.

Jin says that many of us might expect...

Published: 09/29/2006 - 6:00pm Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

Pancakes of Bose-Einstein condensates (BECs) of polar molecules are repulsive and potentially unstable. However, the physics of these dipolar condensates is delicious, according to research associate Shai Ronen, graduate student Daniele Bortolotti, and Fellow John Bohn. The JILA theorists recently studied BECs with purely dipolar interactions in oblate (pancake) traps.

The researchers...

Published: 09/29/2006 - 6:00pm Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

Under ordinary circumstances, making new molecules can be simple and straightforward - just a matter of mixing together some highly reactive chemicals and letting nature take its course. However, when the reactants are a few millionths of a degree above absolute zero, the creation of new molecules requires the sophisticated tools of modern experimental physics. Using those tools, graduate...

Published: 04/08/2006 - 6:00pm Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

There's only one way to prove you've invented a better atomic clock: Come out on top of a comparison of your clock with one of the world's best atomic clocks: The NIST-F1 cesium fountain atomic clock, the nation's primary time and frequency standard. NIST-F1 is so accurate it won't gain or lose a second in more than 60 million years.

That's the gold standard Graduate Students Andrew...

Published: 04/08/2006 - 6:00pm Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

JILA physicists are collaborating to explore the link between superconductivity and Bose-Einstein condensation (BEC) of fermions at ultracold temperatures. Fermions have an odd number of total protons, neutrons, and electrons, giving them a half integer spin, which is either up or down. At ultracold temperatures, this means fermions can't just occupy the same energy level (like bosons, which...

Published: 02/09/2006 - 5:00pm Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

Graduate Student Sarah Thompson, Research Associate Eleanor Hodby, and Fellow Carl Wieman have come up with a novel way to assemble Feshbach molecules from a cloud of ultracold atoms. The molecules consist of very weakly bound atoms that are about as far apart in the molecular state as they are in the atom cloud from which they are formed. Understanding the properties of these molecules...

Published: 09/29/2005 - 6:00pm Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

Have you ever wondered whether a Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC) could spontaneously escape from the trap in which it was created? After all, physicists have known for a long time that the wave nature of single particles, such as atoms and electrons, makes it possible for such particles to tunnel through all kinds of barriers that are too high to climb (or jump) over. BECs also have a wave...

Published: 09/29/2005 - 6:00pm Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

Scientists in Fellow Jun Ye's lab are developing a high-precision optical atomic clock linked to super-narrow optical transitions in ultracold, trapped strontium atoms. However, unless the new clock is portable (it is not) or researchers figure out how to accurately transmit its clock signal over a fiber optic network to NIST, the legendary strontium clock will not be able to help the world...

Published: 09/29/2005 - 6:00pm Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

Graduate students Dave Harber and John Obrecht, postdoc Jeff McGuirk, and Fellow Eric Cornell recently devised a clever way to use a Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC) inside a magnetic trap to probe the quantum behavior of free space. To do this, the researchers first created a BEC inside a magnetic trap, whose shape (where the condensate forms) resembles a cereal bowl. Then as shown in the...

Published: 04/08/2005 - 6:00pm Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

Markus Greiner, Cindy Regal, Jayson Stewart, and Debbie Jin have found the first-ever visual evidence of correlated ultracold atoms in the noise patterns present in images of an ultracold cloud of potassium.

The researchers split ultracold molecules into entangled pairs of atoms flying apart in opposite directions, as shown to the right. Then they used a laser beam to create a...

Published: 04/08/2005 - 6:00pm Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

A high-powered JILA collaboration led by JILA Fellows Jun Ye and Chris Greene is making important progress toward developing an ultrastable, high-accuracy optical atomic clock. The new optical clock design will use a variety of laser sources including a femtosecond comb and a diode laser stabilized with an optical cavity, which, in turn, is locked to a narrow energy level transition in...

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