Engineering Many-body Systems Using Light-matter Coupling

This activity is devoted to using coherent light-matter interactions to provide exquisite quantum control over increasingly complex systems. The first step is studying the collective behavior of increasingly complex interacting atomic systems. The next step is figuring out how to use light to create interactions, coherence, or correlations in atomic systems. The next step is engineering tiny mechanical systems that operate quantum mechanically. Such systems can now be built for a specific purpose such as converting coherent microwave light to coherent infrared or visible light.

Current projects underway in the JILA-PFC include (1) the development of the world’s shortest laser pulses, (2) the control of the quantum motion of tiny drums (nanomechanical oscillators), (3) the coherent transfer of quantum states between microwave and optical light using a tiny drum to facilitate coupling, (4) the identification and study of excitons, dropletons, and other quantum mechanical structures in semiconductors, and (5) investigations of plasmons, which play a role in the optical properties of metals.

This research has already shown that there are many benefits from learning to manipulate multiple quantum objects at the same time. These benefits include the design and development of the world’s most accurate, precise, and stable optical atomic clock as well as the first-ever superradiant laser. The JILA-PFC’s work in engineering quantum systems may one day lead to quantum-enhanced precision measurement as well as improved processing and distribution of quantum information.


  • Ana Maria Rey
  • Andreas Becker
  • Cindy Regal
  • David Nesbitt
  • Henry Kapteyn
  • James Thompson
  • Jun Ye
  • Konrad Lehnert
  • Margaret Murnane
  • Murray Holland
  • Steven Cundiff