Center News

DAMOP Thesis Award Renamed to Honor Deborah Jin
Published: 04-28-2017

The American Physical Society is memorializing Fellow Deborah Jin by renaming the APS Division of Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics (DAMOP) Award for “Outstanding Doctoral Thesis Research in Atomic, Molecular, or Optical Physics." Henceforward, the award will be called the Deborah Jin Award for Outstanding Doctoral Thesis Research in Atomic, Molecular, or Optical Physics.

On April 27, 2017, the Deborah Jin Memorial Endowment Campaign reached its goal of raising $100,000 to supplement the award’s existing endowment fund. The income from this endowment will help with travel expenses for finalists and provide funding to make it possible for a more diverse group of students to attend the annual DAMOP meeting.

The Deborah Jin Award for Outstanding Doctoral Thesis Research in Atomic, Molecular, or Optical Physics recognizes thesis research of outstanding quality and achievement in these areas of physics. The award consists of a $2,500 stipend, a certificate citing the achievements of the recipient, and a travel allowance of $1,000 for finalists to attend the DAMOP annual meeting. At this meeting, the recipient of each year’s award is selected and presented with the award.

JILA Fellows who donated to the recent endowment campaign include Eric Cornell, John Hall, Cindy Regal, Ana Maria Rey, Jun Ye, and James Faller. Many former JILA students and postdocs as well as NIST colleagues and friends of Jin also made generous contributions to the fund.

M Squared Lasers generously sponsors the DAMOP award, which will now honor Deborah Jin in perpetuity while recognizing young researchers.

Christina Porter Wins 2017 Karel Urbanek Best Student Paper Award at SPIE Conference
Published: 03-07-2017

Christina Porter has won the 2017 Karel Urbanek Best Student Paper Award. The award consists of a wall plaque, honorarium, and trophy. The award was presented  on Thursday March 2, 2017, at this year's Metrology, Inspection, and Process Control for Microlithography conference at the SPIE Advanced LIthography in San Jose, California. The award is sponsored by KLA-Tencor.

Porter's paper was entitled "Sub-wavelength transmission and reflection-mode tabletop imaging with 13-nm illumination via ptychography CDI." The paper was judged along with Porter's oral presentation to earn her the prestigious award. Porter was co-first author with Michael Tanksalvala on the winning paper. Additional authors included Dennis F. Gardner, Michael Gerrity, Giulia F. Mancini, Xiaoshi Zhang, Galen P. Miley, Elisabeth R. Shanblatt, Benjamin R. Galloway, Charles S. Bevis, Robert Karl, Jr., Daniel A. Adams, Henry C. Kapteyn, and Margaret M. Murnane. 

The Karel Urbanek Best Student Paper award recognizes the most promising contribution to the field by a student. The award is based on the technical merit and persuasiveness of the paper presented at the conference. 

Margaret Murnane Awarded the 2017 Frederic Ives Medal/Quinn Prize by OSA
Published: 02-16-2017

Margaret Murnane has been awarded the 2017 Optical Society of America’s (OSA’s) Frederic Ives Medal/Quinn Prize. The award recognizes overall distinction in optics and is the highest award given by OSA. The award was given to Murnane “for pioneering and sustained contributions to ultrafast science ranging from femtosecond lasers to soft x-ray high-harmonic generation to attosecond studies of atoms, molecules, and surfaces.”

Murnane is the first woman to receive this Medal in its nearly 90-year history.

As the 2017 medalist, Murnane has been asked to present a plenary address at OSA’s Annual Meeting, to be held September 17–21 at the Washington Hilton in Washington, DC.

The Frederic Ives Medal was endowed in 1928 by Herbert E. Ives, a distinguished charter member and OSA president in 1924 and 1925. The award is named for his father, Frederic Ives, who invented modern photoengraving and made pioneering contributions to color photography, three-color process printing, and other branches of applied optics. The prize is now funded by the Jarus W. Quinn Ives Medal Endowment, which was raised by OSA members at the time of Quinn’s retirement in recognition of his 25 years of service as OSA’s first Executive Director.

Ralph Jimenez Awarded Department of Commerce Bronze Medal
Published: 02-03-2017

Ralph Jimenez received a Department of Commerce Bronze Medal for Superior Federal Service at a ceremony held in mid-December 2016. The Medal is the highest honor presented by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and NIST Director Willie E. May presided over the awards ceremony, which was held concurrently at NIST's Gaithersburg, Maryland, and Boulder, Colorado, campuses.

Jimenez received his Bronze Medal Award "for pioneering innovative tools for transforming the measurement, characterization and collection of biomolecules and cells for applications in industry, medicine, and research." He was recognized for leading a multidisciplinary program combining ultrafast lasers, custom microfluidics, biochemistry, and directed evolution to measure and use large biomolecules and living cells for a range of applications, including more efficiently making biofuels, revealing the details of how enzymes work within cells, as well as developing new molecular tools for nondestructively imaging and measuring chemical reactions within living cells. His accomplishments include

     * Inventing a new high-throughput cytometer that uses ultrafast lasers and microfluidics to nondestructively identify and collect individual living cells with unique and       highly desirable properties,

     * Pioneering methods to measure complex three-dimensional motions of large biomolecules, such as enzymes and proteins, in their natural cellular environments, and    

     * Developing and characterizing fluorescent proteins for use in measurements of chemical and physical reactions within living cells. 

Jimenez' innovations and patented innovations are accelerating the ability of basic and applied researchers to study, understand, and apply their new understanding of the biochemistry of cells in both normal and diseased states.

Deborah Jin and Katharine Gebbie Featured in Scientific American Tribute
Published: 01-10-2017

Deborah Jin and Katharine Gebbie are two of 10 prominent scientists featured in "Gone in 2016: Notable Women in Science and Technology" written by Maia Weinstock. The article appeared online in Scientific American blogs on December 28, 2016. Jin, who died on September 15, 2016 at age 47, was a visionary researcher in ultracold atomic physics. Gebbie, who died on August 17 at age 84, began her career as an astrophysicist at JILA, then rose through the ranks at the National Institute of Science and Technology to become director of NIST's Physical Measurement Laboratory. The loss of both women in 2016 was a great blow to JILA scientists and staff alike.

Matt Norcia Wins JILA Scientific Achievement Award
Published: 02-19-2016

Graduate Student Matt Norcia (Thompson group) received a JILA Scientific Achievement Award on February 18. The announcement took place during a special snack time in the Sunrise Room of the JILA Tower.

Norcia was cited for building a strontium cavity-QED experiment from scratch. Norcia’s advisor, James Thompson, nominated him for the prestigious award. Thompson noted that Norcia’s experiment had accomplished important research goals for the group. Norcia's work is expected to result in publications in Physical Review A, Physical Review X, and Science.

“I believe that Matt is one of the best experimentalists I have ever worked with here at JILA and at MIT,” Thompson said in his nomination letter.

Congratulations Matt!

Jun Ye Selected for 2015 Presidential Rank Award
Published: 12-16-2015

President Obama has selected JILA Fellow Jun Ye of NIST's Quantum Physics Division to receive a 2015 Presidential Rank Award. The award cited Ye's work advancing "the frontier of light-matter interaction and focusing on precision measurement, quantum physics and ultracold matter, optical frequency metrology, and ultrafast science."

The Presidential Rank Awards honor a select group of senior Federal employees for “sustained extraordinary accomplishment.” These employees are "strong leaders, professionals, and scientists who achieve results and consistently demonstrate strength, integrity, industry and a relentless commitment to excellence in public service."

Ye was awarded the highest of the two Rank Award levels, the Distinguished Executive, which can be given to no more than 1% of the approximately 6,800 senior Federal employees across the nation. The Award includes a monetary prize equal to 35% of the employee’s base pay, plus a certificate signed by the President.

The award recognizes Ye as a world leader in laser and atomic physics. He has a long and diverse list of major accomplishments, including the world’s most accurate atomic clock, the world’s most stable laser, extreme ultraviolet frequency combs, major advances with ultracold molecules and chemistry (partly with Debbie Jin), pioneering novel quantum many-body phenomena, and many other breakthroughs.

Congratulations to Jun Ye!





Science Buffs Features JILA’s Innovative Platform for Observing the Ultrafast and Ultrasmall
Published: 11-19-2015

Graduate student Chris Mancuso and senior research associate Dan Hickstein of the Kapteyn/Murnane group recently spoke with Amanda Grennell, a 5th year PhD candidate in Chemistry at the University of Colorado Boulder. The researchers discussed the K/M group’s paper “Strong-field ionization with two-color circularly polarized laser fields,” which appeared in Physical Review A in March, 2015. The result is a delightful blog post of the K/M group’s groundbreaking research on imaging with circularly polarized laser fields. The story includes terrific animations prepared by Hickstein. The story was posted by the BioFrontiers Science Alliance.

Enjoy learning about two-color circularly polarized laser fields by clicking on

You’ll be glad you did!

Debbie Jin & Jun Ye Highly Cited Researchers for 2015
Published: 10-08-2015

Deborah Jin and Jun Ye are Highly Cited Researchers for 2015, according to the Thomas Reuters website. The website states, "Highly Cited Researchers 2015 represents some of world’s most influential scientific minds. About three thousand researchers earned this distinction by writing the greatest number of reports officially designated by Essential Science Indicators as Highly Cited Papers—ranking among the top 1% most cited for their subject field and year of publication, earning them the mark of exceptional impact."

Congratulations to Debbie & Jun on all their great research!

Margaret Murnane Named Honorary Doctor of Science and Technology at Uppsala University
Published: 09-21-2015

JILA Fellow Margaret Murnane was named an honorary doctor on September 21, 2015, at the Faculty of Science and Technology at Uppsala University, Sweden's oldest institution of higher learning. Murnane was noted in the Uppsala University press release as being a world-leading expert in ultrafast quantum optics. In this field, Murnane is well known for her work on high-harmonic generation of laser light that produces an array of beams of laser-like high-energy light ranging from extreme ultraviolet to soft x-ray wavelengths. 

Murnane was named an honorary doctor, in part, because she has participated in collaborations with Uppsala University on the applications of high-harmonic generation to studies of ultrafast dynamics in magnetic materials. This collaboration has led to several high-profile publications.

Murnane co-leads a multidisciplinary team with Henry Kapteyn at JILA and the University of Colorado. The team's work on laser-like high-energy beams is allowing researchers to capture and study the fastest processes in nature, including the dance of electrons inside molecules. 


Jun Ye's DARPA Conference Talk Featured in Popular Science
Published: 09-18-2015

Jun Ye gave a fascinating talk entitled "Let There Be Light (and Thus, Time)" at a DARPA conference on Friday Sept. 11 in St. Louis. Ye described how ultrasensitive lasers can measure the very nature of time as well as the ever-changing distance between the Earth and the Moon. Ye's talk was highlighted the following week in a Sept. 15 article by Rebecca Boyle in Popular Science called "WAIT, WHAT? THE MOST AMAZING IDEAS FROM DARPA'S TECH CONFERENCE." 

Kevin Cox Wins Outstanding Presentation Award
Published: 07-27-2015

Kevin Cox received an Outstanding Presentation Award at the July 15, 2015, NIST Boulder Laboratories Postdoctoral Poster Symposium. Cox was recognized for his presentation “17 dB of Spin Squeezing with QND Measurements.” Cox is a graduate student in the James Thompson group at JILA. He co-authored the poster with Graham Greve, Joshua Weiner, and Thompson.

The award citation read, “The Outstanding Presentation Award is a special recognition for selected poster presenters at the Boulder Laboratories Postdoctoral Poster Symposium. This recognition was selected by senior scientists who circulated through the poster session and noted outstanding quality in both preparation of a poster and its oral presentation.

“For 2015, the program was divided into four groups of posters, along lines of subject matter and academic standing of presenters. In total, four awards were presented to postdoctoral, graduate, and undergraduate researchers. The 2015 Boulder Poster Symposium, held on July 15, is the 12th in this annual conference series. This award was initiated at the 1st symposium held in 2004, which was organized in honor of the Boulder Laboratories 50 Year Anniversary. The sponsor of this event is the Boulder Labs Diversity Council.”

Congratulations to Cox, Greve, Weiner, and Thompson!

Carl Lineberger Awarded a 2015 Dynamics of Molecular Collisions Medal
Published: 07-22-2015

JILA Fellow W. Carl Lineberger has been awarded the 2015 Dudley Herschbach Prize for Experiment, which includes a Dynamics of Molecular Collisions Medal. Lineberger is E. U. Condon Distinguished Professor of Chemistry at the University of Colorado, Boulder. The 2015 Dudley Herschbach Prize for Theory and a Dynamics of Molecular Collisions Medal were given to Millard Alexander, University of Maryland Distinguished University Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

The pair of awards has been presented every two years since 2007 for “bold and architectural work, inspiring and empowering. Such work addresses fundamental, challenging, frontier questions; brings forth new perspectives and capabilities; and typically excites evangelical fervor that recruits many followers,” Herschbach states on the Dynamics of Molecular Collisions Medals website.

Lineberger currently serves as a Member of the National Science Board and its Executive Committee, the National Research Council Laboratory Assessments Board, and the Advisory Editorial Board of Chemical Physics Letters. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; he is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science as well as a member of the American Chemical Society. Lineberger has  won many awards during his illustrious career, including the Herbert P. Broida Prize in Atomic and Molecular Spectroscopy or Chemical Physics from the American Physical Society, the William F. Meggers Prize from the Optical Society of America, and the American Chemical Society’s Irving Langmuir Prize in Chemical Physics and Peter Debye Award in Physical Chemistry.

Deborah Jin to Become Chair-Elect of the APS Nominating Committee
Published: 07-20-2015

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, and the vacant positions of General Councilor and International Councilor for APS elections each year. 

"The American Physical Society is a great resource for our community and an important advocate for physics," Jin wrote in her candidate statement. She added that the success of APS is built on the willingness of its members to serve in various capacities. Jin is a Fellow of JILA, a Fellow of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and an adjoint professor of physics at the University of Colorado, Boulder. She earned a Bachelor's in physics from Princeton University and a doctorate in physics from the University of Chicago. 

At JILA, Jin investigates the behavior of atomic and molecular gases at ultracold temperatures. She is recognized for the creation of the world's first ultracold gas of fermions and a superfluid of paired fermions. In collaboration with Jun Ye, she created and explores the behavior of ultracold potassium-rubidium molecules.

Jin is a Fellow of APS and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. Her many accolades include a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship (a.k.a. "genius grant"), the APS Maria Goeppert Mayer Award, the Service to America Medal: Science; the APS I. I. Rabi Award, the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Physics, Sigma Xi's William Proctor Prize for Scientific Achievement, a Department of Commerce Gold Medal, the L'Oreal-UNESCO Women in Science Award for North America, and the National Academy of Sciences Comstock Prize.


Margaret Murnane Awarded Honorary Doctorate from Trinity College Dublin
Published: 07-06-2015

Margaret Murnane was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Trinity College Dublin on June 26, 2015. The entire ceremony was conducted in Latin and included a lively presentation of Murnane's accomplishments in laser science. It began, "Lucida diei patefacere res omnes quae oculis videantur," or "We see and understand the world through light," the words spoken by Murnane to open her lecture at the American Physical Society in March 2015. The Trinity College presentation went on to cite her ground-breaking work in laser science that has transformed the field of ultrafast laser and x-ray science. She has not only engaged in fundamental research, but also used her discoveries to found a start-up company (KMLabs) with her collaborator and husband, Henry Kapteyn. Murnane has published more than 200 scientific papers and given more than 300 presentations worldwide. 

She has been able to capture the movements of the smallest particles in nature, including the dance of electrons in atoms and molecules. She has engineered coherent x-ray beams that can distinguish important biomolecules. Her accomplishments are expected to have applications ranging from entertainment to surgery and new pharmaceuticals. 

Murnane was born in County Limerick, Ireland, and fell in love with science when she was 8 years old. Her passion for discovery took her first to University College Cork, then to the University of California at Berkeley for graduate work, and then to academic positions at Washington State University, the University of Michigan, and finally to the University of Colorado, Boulder, where she is Distinguished Professor of Physics and Fellow of JILA. Murnane has received 30 awards and honors for her accomplishments, including the 2011 Boyle Medal of the Royal Dublin Society.

"She is an enthusiastic supporter of the Trinity School of Physics, but, more than anything else, she is a shining model for women in science," the presentation concluded. 


Margaret Murnane awarded University College Dublin Honorary Degree
Published: 06-25-2015

University College Dublin conferred an honorary degree of Doctor of Science on Margaret Murnane, June 16, 2015, at a ceremony on the campus in Dublin, Ireland. This award, the highest awarded by the university, is given to remarkable individuals who have achieved distinction in their fields of endeavour. It is given on Bloomsday in honor of UCD alum James Joyce.

NSF highlights the Ye Lab's development of laser frequency comb applications
Published: 06-23-2015

A National Science Foundation Discovery feature highlights the work of the Ye Lab in their dramatic development of laser frequency comb applications that have, according to the article "transformed basic scientific research and led to new technologies in so many different fields--timekeeping, medical research, communications, remote sensing, astronomy, just to name a few."

Learn more about this research by reading the article, Combing frequencies: NSF-funded center provides spectrum of new research, technology.

Ana Maria Rey Awarded APS Fellowship
Published: 03-30-2015

Ana Maria Rey has been awarded an APS Fellowship by the American Physical Society. The award cited "her pioneering research on developing fundamental understanding and control of novel quantum systems and finding applications for a wide range of scientific fields including quantum metrology and the emerging interface between Atomic, Molecular, and Optical physics, condensed matter, and quantum information science." 

Rey will receive her APS Fellowship at the 46th Annual Division of Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics (DAMOP) Meeting in Columbus, Ohio, held June 8–12, 2015.


Carl Lineberger Wins NAS Award in Chemical Sciences
Published: 01-22-2015

Carl Lineberger has won the 2015 National Academy of Sciences Award in Chemical Sciences. The award was given for his "development of molecular negative ion photoelectron spectroscopy, and the fundamental insights into molecular electron affinities and intramolecular dynamics derived therefrom." Lineberger is the E. U. Condon Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and a Fellow of JILA. The award is presented with a medal and a $15,000 cash prize.

Lineberger developed negative ion photoelectron spectroscopy. Scientists can use this technique to determine the electron affinity of the neutral version of an atom or molecule. Electron affinity—the change in energy that occurs when an electron is added to an atom or molecule—provides important information about atoms and molecules and how they interact in chemical reactions. The "periodic table" of atomic electronic affinities now included in general chemistry textbooks is founded on Lineberger’s early work with negative ion photoelectron spectroscopy. His development of anion photoelectron spectroscopy as a tool to study small molecules has provided both an important method to characterize highly reactive, short-lived species known as free radicals as well as a new, direct way to observe the structure and evolution of molecules in the process of undergoing a chemical reaction. Lineberger’s experimental methods are now in widespread use in laboratories worldwide.

The NAS Award in Chemical Sciences was first awarded in 1979 to Linus Pauling for his studies, which elucidated in structural terms the properties of stable molecules of progressively higher significance to the chemical, geological, and biological sciences. The NAS Award in Chemical Sciences award has continued to recognize some of the greatest chemists in the past few decade as 14 recipients have been honored with a National Medal of Science, and six recipients have received a Nobel Prize in Chemistry (Taube 1983; Hoffmann 1981; Brown 1979; Cram 1987; Zewail 1999; Sharpless 2001).

The NAS Award in Chemical Sciences is presented annually to honor innovative research in the chemical sciences that contributes to a better understanding of the natural sciences and to the benefit of humanity. The NAS Award in Chemical Sciences was established in 1978 and supported by Occidental Petroleum Corporation from 1978 to 1996. The Merck Company Foundation assumed sponsorship in 1999. 

Dana Anderson Wins CO-LABS 2014 Governor’s Award
Published: 10-14-2014

Fellow Dana Anderson has won a CO-LABS 2014 Governor’s Award for High-Impact Research in Foundational Technology. Anderson’s work in the commercialization of cold-atom technology also received an Honorable Mention for the development of a strong public/private partnership.

Anderson will be recognized on November 12 when CO-LABS and the Alliance for Sustainable Energy host a night at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science to honor the achievements of Colorado’s federally funded research centers.

In bestowing the award, CO-LABS highlighted Anderson’s work on the practical applications of cold-atom technology. Applications include the development of cold-atom inertial sensors and the creation of a cold-atom research module to be placed on the International Space Station in 2016. In the future, Anderson’s cutting-edge research in cold-atom technology may lead to revolutionary advances in navigation and guidance, gas exploration, advanced communication technologies, and quantum computing.

Anderson co-founded the company ColdQuanta, which was recently named Boulder Company of the Year by the University of Colorado’s Technology Transfer Office.

CO-LABS is a nonprofit organization that works to inform the public about the breakthroughs and impacts from Colorado’s 30 federally funded labs and research facilities. The CO-LABS consortium includes Colorado federal research laboratories, research universities, state and local governments, economic development organizations, private businesses and nonprofit organizations.

Margaret Murnane Wins Moore Investigator Award
Published: 10-08-2014

Fellow Margaret Murnane has won a Moore Experimental Investigator in Quantum Materials Award from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation (Palo Alto, CA). The award is part of the foundation’s $90 million Emergent Phenomena in Quantum Systems Initiative. It is designed to facilitate scientific breakthroughs by giving Murnane and other awardees the opportunity to take risks, collaborate with other scientists, and develop new experimental techniques for exploring the physics of quantum materials.

Murnane was selected for the five-year award after a national competition.

Kevin Cox receives poster prize at ICAP
Published: 08-21-2014

Graduate student Kevin Cox, of the Thompson Lab, received an "ICAP 2014 Best Poster Presentation" award at this year's International Conference on Atomic Physics in Washington DC. His poster was entitled:  "Synchronization in Superradiant Lasers".

Adam Kaufman receives poster prize at ICAP
Published: 08-19-2014

Graduate student Adam Kaufman received one of the poster prizes awarded at this year's International Conference on Atomic Physics in Washington DC.  His poster was entitled:  "Atomic Hong-Ou-Mandel effect in tunnel-coupled optical tweezers".

Rob Walder Wins Best Poster Award
Published: 07-24-2014

NRC post-doc Rob Walder has won a “Best Poster” award at the Single Molecule Approaches to Biology Gordon Research Conference in Italy for his poster entitled  “An Ultrastable Platform for Single Molecule Measurements: Sub-Nanometer Drift in 3D for Hours.” Walder works with the Perkins group.

Jun Ye & Debbie Jin named "Most Influential Scientific Minds 2014"
Published: 07-09-2014

A newly released report from Thomson Reuters on "The World's Most Influential Scientific Minds 2014" includes JILAns Jun Ye and Debbie Jin. The selection of scientists for the report was based on an analysis of Web of Science  and InCites citation reports for an 11-year period to identify those researchers who published the highest impact work from 2002–2012 and 2012–2013. The report concludes that these individuals are "influencing the future direction of their fields, and of the world."