Quantum Matter from Basic Constituents

Science illustration.

Quantum theory was born, in part, to answer the questions posed by the intellectual forebears of modern AMO physicists: how to make sense of atoms and small molecules and their puzzling spectroscopic signatures?

Fast-forwarding across a century of progress, we arrive at a key challenge at today’s quantum frontier: the lack of theoretical capacity to describe fully large-scale quantum systems of many particles, a description that eludes even the world’s most powerful supercomputers. Yesterday’s quantum explorations in AMO physics are now becoming tools for today’s quantum frontier.

The JILA PFC embraces two perspectives on building up quantum complexity and probing the microscopic underpinnings of emergent phenomena observed in quantum matter. First, we build quantum matter from well-controlled quantum particles and excitations, in platforms ranging from gases and arrays of ultracold atoms to microwave circuit elements, where a common theme is the ability to gather many constituents while still accessing correlations at the single particle level. Second, a natural extension of tractable quantum systems in the form of simple molecules is complex polyatomic molecules. Using ideas in state control and frontier light sources, we study multibody interactions between atoms in a molecule.

Specific projects within this major activity

  • Harnessing long-range interactions, in both lattices of ultracold molecules, and acoustically coupled superconducting qubits
  • Building from few body constituents with quantum statistics, in resonant superfluids, ultracold Bose gases, topological matter, and an optical lattice clock
  • Understanding complex molecules from few to many atoms, by developing and extending tools in laser and molecular beam technology to explore the complexity of polyatomic molecules