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Fellows Jun Ye and Deborah Jin named Most Highly Cited Researchers for 2019
Published: 11-19-2019

JILA Fellows Deborah Jin and Jun Ye have been named Most Highly Cited Researchers for 2019 by Clarivate Analytics. This is the sixth year in a row that Jin and Ye have been given this honor.

Clarivate operates Web of Science and the Science Citation Index. Their list of Highly Cited Researchers recognizes scientists across the world who have demonstrated significant influence through publication of multiple highly cited papers during the last decade. Researchers on this list have multiple papers whose citations rank in the top 1% in the Web of Science collection of journals. The 2019 list encompasses 6,216 researchers from around the world, 194 of whom are published in the field of physics.

Jin passed away in September 2016 following a courageous battle with cancer, but she remains on the list covering publications from the period 2008 through 2018. Jin and Ye were close collaborators and friends; together they published many key scientific papers on the production, characterization and applications of quantum degenerate gases of polar molecules. 

"The fact that Debbie Jin passed away in 2016, but continues to appear on the list indicates the enormous impact her papers and research have had, and continue to have," said JILA Fellow Thomas O'Brian, chief of the NIST quantum physics division.

Ye leads a diverse research group at JILA which has, among other things, developed the most precise and accurate clock in the world. His group also delves into quantum many-body research, ultracold degenerate gases, femtosecond laser frequency combs, ultrastable lasers and precision measurement.

Quantum physics: Atomic research discoveries show there’s much more to learn
Published: 11-11-2019

From: CU on the Air Podcast

This month on CU on the Air we welcomed CU Boulder Professor Ana Maria Rey, a theoretical physicist and fellow at JILA. Professor Rey has earned multiple awards for her groundbreaking research, including the coveted MacArthur Genius Fellowship and the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. She earned the Alexander Cruickshank Award in 2017 and 2019, and became the first Hispanic woman to win the Blavatnik Award for Young Scientists. Professor Rey studies the interface between atomic, molecular and optical physics, condensed matter physics, and quantum informational science.

Listen to the podcast:

JILA team demonstrates model system for distribution of more accurate time signals
Published: 10-21-2019

JILA physicists and collaborators have demonstrated the first next-generation "time scale" - a system that incorporates data from multiple atomic clocks to produce a single highly accurate timekeeping signal for distribution. The JILA time scale outperforms the best existing hubs for disseminating official time worldwide and offers the possibility of providing more accurate time to millions of customers such as financial markets and computer and phone networks.

The novel time scale architecture combines a super-reliable, advanced atomic clock with an ultrastable device for storing time signals and is a "blueprint for the upgrade of time scales worldwide," as described in the journal Physical Review Letters.

JILA is jointly operated by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the University of Colorado Boulder.

"I think this new time scale demonstration will be very important for the redefinition of time in the future," said Jun Ye, NIST/JILA fellow and project leader.

The recent redefinition of the International System of Units (SI) did not update the way time is measured. The standard unit of time, the second, has been based on properties of the cesium atom since 1967. In the coming years, the international scientific community is expected to redefine the second, selecting a new atom as the basis for standard atomic clocks and official timekeeping.

To prepare for this change, researchers need to upgrade systems for distributing time. NIST operates the nation's civilian time scales, arrays of hydrogen masers - microwave versions of lasers - that provide reliable oscillating signals to maintain stable "ticking" for the official U.S. civilian time of day, which is linked to international time (coordinated universal time or UTC). Two atomic clocks based on the cesium standard, called NIST-F1 and NIST-F2, are used to calibrate and ensure the accuracy of the time scales. Like next-generation atomic clocks, JILA's experimental time scale operates entirely at optical frequencies, which are much higher than the microwave frequencies of cesium time standards. Optical frequencies divide time into smaller units and thus can offer greater accuracy. 

Efforts to incorporate the latest optical atomic clocks into older microwave time scales have run into limits on long-term stability, due to the inherent properties of masers and the fluctuations associated with linking them to experimental clocks that operate intermittently.

The JILA team solved these problems by optimizing a more stable type of oscillator and tightly controlling operating conditions such as temperature so their highly stable and precise strontium lattice clock can be operated regularly on demand.

The oscillator is formed by a laser beam aimed into a hollow cavity made of a single crystal of silicon, inside of which laser light of a specific color, or frequency, bounces back and forth regularly for a long time, like a metronome. These devices have been around for years, but a long-term JILA collaboration with Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB), the German national metrology institute, came up with a new way of building them, greatly improving the stability of the light. Recently, the JILA team further boosted the long-term stability of their cavity, which is 21 centimeters long and operates at cryogenic temperatures of 124 K (minus 149.15 C), by using superpolished optics and improved heat control, among other tweaks.

In the JILA time scale, an optical frequency comb (a ruler for light) transfers the stable optical signal from this cavity to another, very stable laser that is shined on the clock's atoms and synchronizes the light's frequency with their ticking. Two additional lasers are stabilized to independent cavities. The multiple lasers and cavities provide redundancy in case anything malfunctions.

The stability of the oscillator was compared continuously to that of the NIST microwave time scale by a preexisting underground fiber-optic link between JILA, on the university's campus, and NIST, a mile or so away. Over a month of measurements, the frequency stability of the optical oscillator consistently surpassed that of the masers in the microwave time scale.

The experimental results show that the JILA time scale architecture outperforms microwave time scales, even when the masers are calibrated by next-generation atomic clocks. The team's analysis indicates that by running the JILA optical clock 50% of the time, the all-optical time scale could reach a stability level about 10 times better than the standard microwave time scale, or 1x10-17, after a few months of averaging.

A further practical advantage is that the oscillator frequency can be predicted using conventional microwave analysis techniques, enabling the team to estimate a timing error of only 48 ± 94 picoseconds (trillionths of a second) after 34 days of operation.

Additional technical upgrades are planned, including automation that should allow the clock to be operated more than 50% of the time. Researchers also plan to incorporate the optical time scale signal into the NIST time scale using the underground fiber network.

Co-authors of the paper include researchers from the NIST Time and Frequency Division as well as from PTB.

The work is supported by NIST, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, the National Science Foundation, PTB, and the Cluster of Excellence (Quantum Frontiers).

For more information about the research of the Ye Group, please see the Ye Labs website.

Australian fellowship named for late JILA Fellow Deborah Jin
Published: 07-26-2019

JILA Fellow Deborah Jin’s research was literally the coolest. She created the first fermionic condensate and the first quantum degenerate molecular gases, expanding our knowledge of how atomic and molecular behavior changes at ultracold temperatures. Jin was not only a prominent physicist, she was a role model and mentor for young scientists, particularly women.

“She was a physics giant. Her research on fermionic gases helped us advance our field in an impressive way,” said JILA Fellow Ana Maria Rey, who worked with Jin. “Besides being one of the most prominent physicists in our field, she was a caring mother, a fantastic wife and a supportive colleague and friend."

Although Jin passed away in 2016, her research continues to influence physicists around the world. The Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Engineered Quantum Systems (EQUS) is now offering Deborah Jin Fellowships to two early career female scientists.

“This prestigious fellowship is a great testimony to Debbie’s continuing international impact in research and training,” JILA Fellow Tom O’Brian said.

EQUS is Australia’s national quantum research and development initiative, similar to the United States' National Quantum Initiative or Europe’s Quantum Flagship Initiative. The Deborah Jin Fellowships are three-year appointments at either the University of Queensland, University of Sydney, Macquarie University and University of Western Australia. Applications are due August 5, 2019 at 8:00 AM AEST.

JILA's Ana Maria Rey wins Blavatnik Award
Published: 06-26-2019

The Blavatnik Family Foundation and the New York Academy of Sciences named theoretical physicist and JILA Fellow Ana Maria Rey one of three Laureates for the Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists. Each year these awards honor three scientists in life sciences, physical sciences and engineering, and chemistry. The other caveat: all laureates are 42 years old or younger.

“We like to think of them as our young Nobels,” Brooke Grindlinger, chief scientific officer of scientific programs and Blavatnik Awards at the academy told the Boulder Daily Camera. 

Nominated by 169 research institutions from across 44 states, the Blavatnik National Awards received 343 nominees – the largest pool of nominees ever received by the program. For the first time in the awards' 13-year history, all of the laureates are women; as a U.S. citizen who is a native Colombian, Rey is the first Hispanic woman to win this award.

"It is such a huge honor for me to receive this recognition. I could not believe it was given to me," Rey said. "I am really grateful."

“These three women are leading scientists and inventive trailblazers with stellar accomplishments in their respective fields,” said Len Blavatnik, founder and chairman of Access Industries, head of the Blavatnik Family Foundation and member of the President’s Council of the New York Academy of Sciences. “Their groundbreaking research leads the way for future discoveries that will improve the world and benefit humankind. It’s exciting to see these three brilliant scientists chosen as the 2019 Blavatnik National Laureates.”

Rey said she would be honored to be seen as a role model for other young women pursuing physics.

"In my point of view, having role models to inspire women is key. It is very important for women to realize that to have a scientific career it is not incompatible with having a family. Facilitating ways that help women to be a successful scientists and mothers at the same time is crucial," she said. Rey added that she was fortunate to have some great women role models in her early career, including the late Deborah Jin, a fellow JILA physicist.

"She was a physics giant. Her research on fermionic gases helped us advance our field in an impressive way. Besides being one of the most prominent physicists in our field, she was a caring mother, a fantastic wife and a supportive colleague and friend," Rey said.

Rey is a top young theorist in quantum information science and technology (QIST) and atomic, molecular and optical (AMO) physics. Her pioneering work has earned her a MacArthur Fellow Award in 2013 and an American Physical Society Fellow Award in 2015, among many other scientific awards and honors. Rey's theories on atomic collisions led to the development of the world's most accurate atomic clock. That clock is in use at JILA and has been critical in experiments across research groups at the organization.

In addition to being a JILA Fellow, Rey is a Professor Adjoint of Physics at the University of Colorado, and a Fellow of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), that partners with the University of Colorado to form JILA. Rey is also a leading member of the University of Colorado CUbit Quantum Initiative.

“JILA is thrilled to congratulate Ana Maria for her selection as the Blavatnik National Laureate Award in Physical Sciences & Engineering.  We also thank the Blavatnik Family Foundation for celebrating the successes of young scientists and engineers in the US and worldwide,” said JILA Fellow and Chair Thomas Perkins.

All Blavatnik National laureates and finalists are invited to the Blavatnik National Awards ceremony at the American Museum of Natural History in New York in September. The award comes with an unrestricted $250,000 prize for each winner. Rey says she doesn't have an immediate plans for the winnings, but she couldn't have achieved this honor without her colleagues at JILA, NIST and the University of Colorado Boulder.

"All my research has been inspired by a close collaboration with experimental groups. In particular, the work done at Jun Ye's, James Thompson's and John Bollinger's labs have been the driving force for my research," Rey said. "Also all the successful developments in my group have been possible thanks to the fantastic group of postdocs and graduate students who have worked very hard to accomplish our research goals. They are responsible for all the milestones achieved in my group. I owe all of them so much. I am really grateful and hope that they consider this award as a recognition to their work."

JILA Fellow Murray Holland wins Marinus Smith Award
Published: 05-14-2019

JILA's greatest achievement is training the next generation of scientists and researchers. Recently JILA Fellow Murray Holland was recognized for his role in shaping that future generation with a Marinus Smith Award.

In addition to his research at JILA on quantum gases and optomechanics, Holland teaches undergraduate physics classes at CU from introductory physics to the principles of electricity and magnetism. Each spring CU students and their families nominate faculty and staff who have inspired, mentored, and supported them. This year more than 80 nominations were made, and Holland was one of 16 CU staff and faculty who received an award on April 18.

“It is remarkable to be able to share the incredible stories from students and their families on how current faculty, staff and administrators positively influence the lives of our students during their time at CU Boulder. We are so proud and honored to host these annual awards and recognize the outstanding contributions of our campus community members,” Amber Cardamone, director of New Student & Family Programs, said in a press release.

Thomas Perkins wins Gears of Government Award
Published: 05-13-2019

Sometimes, focusing on the little things can gain you recognition. Dr. Thomas Perkins won a Gears of Government Award for his work in atomic force microscopy. The President's Office gives the Gears of Government Awards to honor those in the federal workforce who have made a profound difference in American lives. 

“Whether they are defending the homeland, inspecting our food, making scientific discoveries, or managing cyber risks, Federal employees underpin all the operations of our government and touch nearly every aspect of our lives,” Office of Management and Budget’s Deputy Director for Management Margaret Weichert said in a press release. “These awards recognize not just the front-line mission employees, but also those teams and individuals that are strengthening our country to be a more modern, effective government to better serve their fellow citizens.”

As a JILA Fellow and NIST physicist, Perkins' lab falls under the Department of Commerce. His lab has focused on single molecule measurements of biological systems, like proteins, DNA and RNA. To get those measurements, his team has advanced atomic force microscopy in the last decade. Their advances in AFM technology have led to better understanding of biology, such as completely mapping the energy landscape of a hairpin-shaped bend in HIV RNA, and understanding illnesses from cancer to brain disease. With this knowledge, scientists can develop better drugs and therapies. Perkins emphasized that their work is a team effort. 

“I am delighted to receive this award that reflects a decade of innovation by members of my lab,” Perkins said.


CUBit meets with Congress
Published: 04-29-2019

On April 17-18, 2019, the University of Colorado Boulder met with leadership at the White House, federal research agencies and in Congress to discuss the university's unique strengths in quantum information sciences, as well as its support for fully funding federal quantum activities authorized in the National Quantum Initiative enacted last year.

Quantum information science and technology is a top priority for United States' research investment dollars. CU Boulder launched its CUbit Quantum Initiative earlier this year to synergize quantum efforts on campus, at NIST and with industry partners. The CU Boulder delegation highlighted this effort and discussed not only the university's research strengths in quantum and rich history of collaboration with NIST, but also new efforts to improve workforce development, convene regional and national stakeholders and accelerate commercialization of new quantum technologies. 

The CU Boulder delegation—which included Terri Fiez, Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation, and Jun Ye, Director of CU Boulder's CUbit Quantum Initiative and a Fellow at JILA—met with Kelvin Droegemeier, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and his policy team, leadership at the U.S. Departments of Energy and Defense, and several Colorado congressional offices, including U.S. Senator Cory Gardner and U.S. Representatives Joe Neguse and Ed Perlmutter. Gardner and Perlmutter each serve on their chamber's respective science committees, which have jurisdiction over federal science policy, and Neguse represents CU Boulder in Congress. The visit was supported by CU's Government Relations Office. Engagement with lawmakers and government officials will continue as quantum research advances.

JILA’s PISEC High School Poster Symposium brings real science to students
Published: 04-19-2019

From enrichment tools for otters and ocean clean up to recycled computer monitor light displays, high school students got a chance to show off their scientific research this week at the PISEC High School Poster Symposium. Students from Englewood High School, Northglenn High School, and Skyline High School proudly displayed their research posters at JILA on Friday, giving their presentations to JILAns and other students. 

PISEC was founded as part of the JILA NSF Physics Frontier Center in 2008. Graduate and undergraduate students at JILA volunteer to work with students throughout the semester. They focus on giving the students real scientific experience, from designing an experiment to presenting their research on a poster. 


Marit Fiechter wins SPIN prize for best undergraduate physics thesis
Published: 04-17-2019

One of JILA’s former students was awarded high honors at Netherland’s Physical Society’s annual FYSICA conference this April. Marit Fiechter, an undergraduate student at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, won the Students of Physics In the Netherlands (SPIN) prize for her bachelor’s project, which included a 500 Euro cash prize from the Dutch Society of Physics.

Most undergraduate students in the Netherlands complete a three-month project at the end of his or her degree. Fiechter’s prize-winning thesis on narrow-line cooling of yttrium monoxide grew out of her work in Jun Ye’s lab at JILA. She says JILA’s collaborative spirit not only helped her research, it helped her grow as a scientist.

“I'm very grateful Jun gave me the opportunity to join his group; I really enjoyed my time at JILA,” she said in an email. “Not only did I like the project, I also got along with my coworkers (Ian Finneran, Yewei Wu and Shiqian Ding) really well. They are the reason I've learned as much as I have now, by always answering my questions and then enthusiastically explaining even more!”

She added, “I feel like I was surrounded by talented and hard-working people, who are eager to push their experiment forward while at the same time not stressing out about it.”

Fiechter will start her master’s degree in physics at ETH Zürich this September.

Jun Ye and Deborah Jin named 2018 Highly Cited Researchers
Published: 12-03-2018

JILA Fellows Jun Ye and Deborah Jin (1968 to 2016) have been named Highly Cited Researchers for 2018 by Clarivate Analytics.

The list of Highly Cited Researchers, published annually since 2014, recognizes scientists across the world who have demonstrated significant influence through publication of multiple highly cited papers during the last decade.

Clarivate’s list of Highly Cited Researchers is determined by production of multiple papers whose citations rank in the top 1% in Web of Science. The 2018 list surveys papers published from 2006 through 2016, across 21 fields of science and social science. Approximately 6,000 researchers were named Highly Cited Researchers in 2018. Ye and Jin are among 211 physicists across the world included in the list.

Although Debbie Jin passed away in September 2016, she remains on the list covering publications from the period 2006 through 2016, reflecting her enormous impact on science even during her courageous battle with cancer. Jin and Ye were close collaborators and friends, jointly publishing many of the key scientific papers on the production, characterization and applications of quantum degenerate gases of polar molecules. 

“It is humbling to see the impact that both Jun and Debbie continue to have on worldwide physics research, even two years after Debbie’s passing,” said Thomas O’Brian, a JILA Fellow and chief of the Time and Frequency Division at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

The Ye group conducts a particularly broad and deep program in quantum science, including ultracold lattices of strontium atoms for world-leading atomic clocks and quantum many-body research, ultrastable lasers and femtosecond laser frequency combs, quantum degenerate molecular gases, and precision measurements.

Learn more about the methodology for determining top citations and access the full list of 2018 Highly Cited Researchers on the Clarivate Analytics website

Perkins and Lehnert Awarded Department of Commerce Medals
Published: 09-26-2018

26th September 2018 — JILA Fellows Dr. Tom Perkins and Dr. Konrad Lehnert both received medals from the Department of Commerce last night at the Ronald Reagan Amphitheater in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Perkins received the Gold Medal, which is the highest honorary award given by the United States Department of Commerce, or DOC. Perkins was recognized for creating the world’s best atomic force microscope tailored to biological measurements. This device can “grab” onto biological molecules, such as proteins, and measure the tiny forces involved in their folding and unfolding.

Perkins was also recognized for using this technology to study the structure and dynamics of key membrane proteins, which are proteins that control the exchange of chemicals into and out of cells. His techniques revealed the structure and dynamics of these proteins in ten times greater detail than previously possible. This research will lead to better understanding, and subsequently diagnosis and treatment, of the diseases developed through protein misfoldings, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and cystic fibrosis.

 “I am honored to receive this award,” said Perkins. “It reflects a decade of efforts by my students and post-docs as we sequentially addressed a set of metrological limitations to bioAFM, including a key advance by an undergraduate. We then successfully demonstrated our metrological improvements by resolving a multitude of hidden dynamics of bacteriorhodopsin, a result that biologist and biochemists cared about.”

Dr. Lehnert received the Silver Medal as part of a team of NIST scientists building the components of a quantum communications network. In addition to Lehnert, the team included Dr. Jose Aumentado, Dr. Raymond Simmonds and Dr. John Teufel. Aumentado, Simmonds and Teuful are scientists in the Applied Physics Division of the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Boulder, CO.

The team was recognized for the first realization of the complex components needed for future quantum networks. Quantum networks, or the ability to connect multiple quantum nodes, will advance quantum computing and the rapid, secure exchange of quantum information. The components realized by the team include techniques to store, exchange, transmit, amplify, and readout quantum information using quantum-based superconducting circuits and quantum-controlled micromechanical resonators. The team’s accomplishments represent multiple first and best advances in technologies for quantum networks.

“It was exhilarating to get out in front of this highly competitive new research area,” said Lehnert. “By working together, John, Ray, Jose and I were able to quickly make great progress.”

The awarding of DOC gold and silver medals is an annual traditional established in 1949. The awards are presented to individuals, groups, or organizations in the Department of Commerce for extraordinary, noble, or prestigious contributions.

Previous recipients of DOC awards include 14 JILA Fellows. The most recent JILA Fellow awardee was Ralph Jimenez, who was part of a NIST team awarded the Gold Medal in 2017 for developing tools to create stop-action X-ray measurements of molecules. One of the earliest JILA Fellow awardees was Jan Hall, who received the Gold Medal individually in 1969, and again as part of a team in 1974 and 2002. 

Jun Ye Stars in Feature Film
Published: 08-22-2018

JILA Jun Ye hit the big screen this summer as he debuted in the feature-length documentary, “The Most Unknown”.

“The Most Unknown” brings together nine scientists from across the globe, all of whom are using science to answer deep philosophical questions, such as how did life begin, and what is time? The scientists are brought together, (“blind-date style,” as the New Yorker’s review accurately describes it) to discuss how their work from various fields might overlap.  

According to a New York Times review, “‘The Most Unknown’ works best as inspiration to delve deeper into these disciplines, and as a celebration of science.”

The full 85-minute film was produced by Motherboard, Vice’s media tech-culture channel, and directed by Emmy-nominated and Peabody Award-winning filmmaker Ian Cheney and advised by world-renowned filmmaker Werner Herzog. The film was made possible by a grant from Science Sandbox, a Simons Foundation initiative dedicated to engaging everyone with the process of science.

The film was first released on 18 May 2018 in only select U.S. theatres. As of August, the film is streaming on Netflix.

A live screening with special guests will be held at the University of Colorado Boulder on Monday, October 1st

Watch the trailer below:

Ye wins 2018 Rabi Award for research on optical lattice atomic clocks
Published: 02-22-2018

JILA Fellow Jun Ye was named the 2018 winner of the I. I. Rabi Award by the IEEE Frequency Control Symposium. Ye was recognized “for the development of stabile, reproducible, and accurate atomic clocks based on optical lattices, and the use of those clocks to probe fundamental atomic interactions and quantum many-body systems.”

The award recognizes Ye’s sustained leadership in perfecting optical lattice atomic clocks as the most accurate and precise timekeepers in the world, and Ye’s continual pioneering of new physics, such as his recent first-in-the-world Fermi degenerate gas atomic clock using quantum many-body physical principles to dramatically improve clock accuracy and stability.

The IEEE Frequency Control Symposium is the world’s largest and most important scientific society dealing with atomic timekeeping and related topics. The Rabi Award is the Symposium’s highest award for scientific research in atomic timekeeping. Award namesake Isidor Rabi was the 1944 Nobel Physics Laureate for his invention of the resonance technique in molecular beams. In 1945, Rabi was the first to suggest this method could be used to make atomic clocks, and indeed Rabi’s method was adopted for the best atomic clocks for several decades. More recently, Ye and other scientists perfected the new and more precise method of optical lattice atomic clocks.

Previous Rabi Award winners at JILA have included JILA Fellows Jan Hall and Judah Levine.

The award will be formally presented to Ye at the International Frequency Control Symposium in Squaw Creek, CA, May 21-24, 2018.

Congratulations to Jun!

Ye Elected to Chinese Academy of Sciences
Published: 12-13-2017

The Chinese Academy of Sciences announced on November 29, 2017 the election of JILA Fellow Jun Ye as a Foreign Member, China’s highest honor for foreign scientists:

The Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) promotes scientific and technological advances across the world. CAS includes a network of more than 100 research and development organizations across the world; three universities; and a traditional merit-based academy analogous to the US National Academy of Sciences to recognize and convene scientific leaders from across the world.

Membership in the CAS is comparable to election to the US National Academy of Sciences, representing a significant honor for international achievement and impact in science. Members are selected to one or more Divisions, including Physics and Mathematics (the Division to which Ye was elected), Chemistry, Life Sciences and Medical Sciences, Earth Sciences, Information Technology Sciences, and Technological Sciences.

The CAS currently has 800 Chinese members and 92 foreign members, including the newest members. Foreign Members are elected from across the world based on their scientific achievements. A few examples of current foreign members of the CAS in addition to Ye include:

·       Richard Zare, Stanford, father of ultrafast laser chemistry and former JILA Fellow.

·       Klaus von Klitzing, Germany, Nobel Physics Laureate for integer quantum Hall effect.

·       Steve Chu, Stanford and Bell Labs, Nobel Physics Laureate for laser cooling and former US Energy Secretary and former JILA Visiting Fellow.

·       Charles Kao, multiple universities and industries in US, UK and Hong Kong, Nobel Physics Laureate for pioneering optical fibers.

Ye is also one of JILA’s several members of the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS). Similar to the CAS, the US NAS has about 2,000 US Members and about 400 Foreign Members.

Ye’s election to the CAS recognizes his world leadership in ultracold atoms and molecules, in optical lattice atomic clocks, in ultrastable lasers and femtosecond laser frequency combs, and in precision measurements.

Congratulations to Jun Ye on this great honor!

Ye wins NIST Jacob Rabinow Applied Research Award
Published: 12-13-2017

JILA and NIST Fellow Jun Ye was named the 2017 winner of the NIST Jacob Rabinow Applied Research Award, one of the top honors for the more than 1,600 scientific and technical NIST employees.

Jacob Rabinow was a prolific innovator working at the National Bureau of Standards (NBS), the predecessor of NIST, receiving more than 200 patents for his inventions of mechanical, electrical and optical devices and systems.

The NIST Rabinow Award for applied science emphasizes the breadth, depth and impact of Ye’s work. Ye’s leading-edge scientific research has resulted in innovations including ultrastable lasers, world-leading atomic clocks, and novel frequency comb applications. Such innovations and are used for a wide range of applications, from medical diagnostics to new ultraprecision chemical measurements.

Ye has received many international and NIST awards for his pioneering fundamental research. Ye is one of the very few people to have won both NIST’s highest award for fundamental research (Samuel Wesley Stratton Award) as well as NIST’s highest award for applied science (Rabinow Award).

Jun will receive his award from the NIST Director at the NIST Annual Awards Ceremony on December 13, 2017.

Ye and Jin, highly cited researchers for fourth consecutive year
Published: 11-16-2017

JILA Fellows Jun Ye and Deborah Jin (1968 to 2016) have been named Highly Cited Researchers for 2017 by Clarivate Analytics (formerly Thomson Reuters). 

The list of Highly Cited Researchers, published annually since 2014, recognizes scientists across the world with the greatest number (top 1%) of highly cited publications. The 2017 list covers the period from 2006 through 2016, and includes all categories of science. Ye and Jin are among 193 physicists across the world included in the list.

 Publishing many papers which are frequently cited by other scientists is a mark of exceptional impact. Clarivate calls the people on the list “The World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds.” Clariviate's list recognizes researchers for their dedication and focus to expanding the sphere of human knowledge. 

Although Debbie Jin passed away in September 2016, she remains on the list covering publications from the period 2006 through 2016, reflecting her enormous impact on science even during her courageous battle with cancer. Jin and Ye were close collaborators and friends, jointly publishing many of the key scientific papers on the production, characterization and applications of quantum degenerate gases of polar molecules. 

The Ye group conducts a particularly broad and deep program in quantum science, including ultracold lattices of strontium atoms for world-leading atomic clocks and quantum many-body research, ultrastable lasers and femtosecond laser frequency combs, quantum degenerate molecular gases, and precision measurements.


Congratulations to Ye and Jin and their group members for their continuing innovations and impact on science.


Clarivate Highly Cited Researchers site

PhET Team Receives 2018 APS Excellence in Physics Education Award
Published: 10-27-2017

The American Physical Society has bestowed its 2018 Excellence in Physics Education Award upon the PhET Interactive Simulations Team. The team includes Stanford University Professor Carl Wieman, PhET’s Founder and senior advisor; PhET Director Kathy Perkins (University of Colorado); Ariel Paul, Director of Development; Michael Dubson, Physics faculty, University of Colorado; Emily B. Moore, Director of Research and Accessibility, University of Colorado; and Sam Reid, Software Developer, University of Colorado, and Wendy K. Adams, Colorado School of Mines.

The award cited the PhET Interactive Simulations Team “for the systematic development, dissemination, and evaluation of the physics education tool, PhET Interactive Simulations project, used world-wide by millions of students and their teachers.”

The Excellence in Physics Education Award is given in recognition of a team that has exhibited a sustained commitment to excellence in physics education. The award, which is presented annually, consists of $5000, a certificate citing the achievements of the group or individual, and an allowance for travel expenses to the 2018 APS April meeting where the award will be presented.

Of the award-winning PhET team, Wieman, Paul, and Perkins have special ties to JILA. Wieman was a University of Colorado Physics Professor and JILA Fellow 1985-2006. During his tenure at JILA, he and Eric Cornell made the world’s first Bose-Einstein condensate, a feat for which they won the 2001 Nobel Prize in physics. Ariel Paul did his Ph.D. thesis work and postdoctoral research at JILA as well as serving as a JILA Instrument Shop apprentice. Paul and Perkins are currently JILA affiliates. Wieman is a Fellow Adjoint.

Congratulations to the PhET Interactive Simulations Team!

PhET Sims wins 2017 WISE Award
Published: 09-26-2017

PhET Interactive Simulations, based at the University of Colorado Boulder, has been named one of six recipients of the 2017 World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) Awards.

PhET was founded in 2002 by Nobel Laureate and JILA Fellow Adjoint Carl Wieman. It was previously funded by the JILA Physics Frontier Center. PhET creates interactive math and science simulations in game-like environments. The simulations encourage students to learn through interaction and discovery.

The WISE awards recognize projects that take an innovative approach to challenges in global education. The winners are awarded $20,000 and are invited to attended the eighth World Innovation Summit for Education, held Nov 14–16 this year in Doha, Qatar.

“To be selected from the many deserving projects is truly a great honor for our team,” said Kathy Perkins, an associate professor at the University of Colorado, and the Director of PhET since 2010. “This WISE Award affirms the importance of STEM learning and literacy in today’s world and the positive impact high-quality open educational resources can have at scale.”

One of PhET's founding philosophies is to be a flexible tool. Ariel Paul, PhET’s Director of Development, says PhET’s simulations can be both a demo for second-graders, and a relevant teaching tool for college classes. The PhET project hopes to increase its flexibility in a new manner––via increased accessibility. Some PhET simulations are produced in device-agnostic HTML5 and translated into more than 90 languages. In the near future, PhET plans to increase digital accessibility and optimize for mobile devices.

PhET simulations are available for free on the PhET website. The most popular sim, the Circuit Construction Kit, is run more than eight million times a year worldwide. Other popular sims include Energy Skate Park, Build an Atom, and Forces and Motions.


Tom Perkins Wins 2017 Governor’s Award
Published: 08-28-2017

Fellow Tom Perkins has won a 2017 Governor’s Award for High-Impact Research. Perkins will receive the award from Governor John Hickenlooper at an event sponsored by the CO-LABS consortium at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science on October 5, 2017. This year’s ninth annual event will honor Colorado’s top scientists and engineers for projects having a significant impact on society.

“The projects in this year’s CO-LABS High-Impact Awards spotlight what makes Colorado a leader in innovation,” said Governor John Hickenlooper. “It’s terrific to see research advance its partnerships with the private sector. I congratulate the scientific teams for their groundbreaking work and am excited to see the mark they will leave on our state and society as a whole.”

For his part, Perkins said, “I’m delighted to see the Governor and CO-LABS celebrating the diversity of excellent science in Colorado.”

Perkins is being recognized for work described as New twists in the molecules of life. In a decade long project, Perkins developed powerful new tools to measure and study individual biomolecules. He then partnered with the biotech industry to develop tools to improve the measurement and understanding of the structure and function of single proteins and nucleic acids, which play key roles in the biophysics and biochemistry of life. Amazingly, Perkins’ new tools can probe these key biomolecules in real time and under real world conditions.

Starting with an ordinary atomic-force microscope (AFM), Perkins painstakingly modified the AFM cantilevers to make the world’s most precise measurements of the structural components of individual proteins and nucleic acids. Today, he watches these large, complex molecules fold and unfold as they perform normal biological functions. He accomplishes all this in the wet, warm environment of living cells. His new AFM technology can completely analyze the folding and unfolding of a biomolecule in the laboratory in 2–3 days. Without the new AFM technology, this process used to take months of work.

As part of his effort to create better instruments for studying biomolecules, Perkins worked with instrument makers and pharmaceutical/biotech companies to apply his unique AFM technology to making ultraprecise measurements of the real-time folding and unfolding of individual biomolecules. These collaborative experiments are expected to impact medical diagnostics and treatments as well as speeding up the progress of fundamental biomedical and biological research.

Perkins has transferred his new technology through invents and patents, widely cited scientific publications, direct collaborations with industry, and by training young scientists who have built upon his work at AFM and biotech companies.

Ana Maria Rey Named NIST Fellow
Published: 08-21-2017

Ana Maria Rey has been appointed a NIST Fellow as of August 21,2017 by the Acting Director of NIST. JILA is a research and training partnership between the University of Colorado and NIST, and Ana Maria is one of the several JILA Fellows who are NIST employees. Ana Maria was named a NIST Fellow in recognition of her world-leading program in quantum theory, her pioneering work in quantum many-body physics, and her continuing powerful collaborations with experimentalists at JILA, at NIST, and across the world.

NIST Fellow is the highest scientific position at NIST, and is limited to no more than 40 of the more than 1,800 scientific employees across the organization who demonstrate unique scientific leadership and innovation. The NIST Director also relies on the NIST Fellows to provide advice and guidance about current and future research directions for the organization. Ana Maria joins Eric Cornell, David Nesbitt, Jun Ye, and Judah Levine as JILA Fellows who are also NIST Fellows.

“It’s a great honor for me,” Ana Maria said. “NIST has been part of my life, my research and my career since I did my PhD thesis work with Charles Clark of NIST. I chose to become a theoretical physicist because I heard (NIST Nobel Laureate) Bill Phillips giving a talk at NIST.”

“Becoming a NIST Fellow is the latest of many well-deserved honors for Ana Maria in her enormously productive scientific career,” said Tom O’Brian, Ana Maria’s NIST supervisor at JILA. “Ana Maria has a huge impact on JILA, NIST, and the international scientific community. She and her group have the unique ability to fully collaborate with experimentalists. They have developed new theory that directly advances experiments such as the world’s best atomic clocks, world-leading programs in ultracold molecules, and world-record entanglement of ions for quantum simulation––among many other accomplishments. Ana Maria is also an exceptional mentor and teacher, preparing her graduate students and postdoctoral researchers for highly productive careers of their own. JILA and NIST are extremely fortunate to have Ana Maria’s leadership.”

Congratulations to Ana Maria.

Leah Dodson Wins 2017 Miller Prize
Published: 07-18-2017

Leah Dodson won the Miller Prize at the 72nd International Symposium on Molecular Spectroscopy, held June 19–23 in Urbana, Illinois. Dodson is an NRC postdoc whose official advisor is Jun Ye, but who primarily works on molecular spectroscopy in the Mathias Weber lab. Her award-winning talk was entitled “Oxalate Formation in Titanium––Carbon Dioxide Anionic Clusters Studied by Infrared Photodissociation Spectroscopy.”

“Leah gave a nice polished presentation with good organization and clarity,” said Ben McCall, Chair of the International Symposium on Molecular Spectroscopy, in a letter to Weber announcing the award. “She clearly outlined the rationale, the experiment, and the results. She was engaged, excited about her project, and good at thinking on the spot.”

Dodson’s project featured in her talk was the investigation of catalysts in model systems. Specifically, she studied the possible use of titanium dioxide (TiO2) as a catalyst to break carbon-oxygen (C–O) bonds in carbon dioxide (CO2) produced in a factory. Breaking C–O bonds in CO2 is a key step in turning this greenhouse gas back into usable fuel––and keeping it out of the atmosphere. Dodson’s experiment worked surprisingly well. In the experiment, TiO2 anions effectively broke COmolecules, forming metal carbonyl in the process. This experiment was the basis for her symposium talk, which resulted in the Miller Prize.

As a Miller Prize winner, Dodson has been invited to present a 15-min talk in one of the plenary sessions in the June 2018 symposium. Dodson will also serve as a judge in the 2018 Miller Prize competition. In addition, she and her coauthors have been invited to submit an article based on her talk at this year’s symposium to the Journal of Molecular Spectroscopy. 

Bryce Bjork Awarded 2017 Rao Prize
Published: 07-17-2017

Bryce Bjork’s talk entitled “Direct Measurement of OD+CO-> cis-DOCO, trans-DOCO, and D+CO2 Branching Kinetics using Time-Resolved Frequency Comb Spectroscopy” was selected by a panel of judges at the International Symposium on Molecular Spectroscopy as one of three winners of the 2017 Rao Prize. The prize will be presented to Bjork at the June 2018 Symposium.

In addition, Bjork was asked to serve as a judge in the 2018 Rao Prize competition. If he is able to attend next year’s Symposium, his registration fee will be waived and he will receive an up-to-six nights’ stay at the four-bedroom suite rate.

“There were many superb talks, but yours was exceptional,” said Gary Douberly, Chair of the 2017 Rao Prize Committee, in a recent letter to Bjork informing him of his selection. “We hope that this prize represents the beginning of what we expect will be a distinguished career in science.”

Rao Prize winners and their co-authors are invited to submit articles based on their talks to the Journal of Molecular Spectroscopy. When published, the article will appear in the journal with a caption linking the paper with the symposium talk that won the Rao Prize.

“The prize is given to graduate students,” said Jun Ye, Bjork’s advisor at JILA.  “But, it usually signifies the beginning point of a young spectacular scientific career in the field of molecular spectroscopy.” 

NPR’s Eric Westervelt Talks with Carl Wieman about His New Book
Published: 06-13-2017

NPR’s education reporter Eric Westervelt is excited about Nobel Laureate Carl Wieman’s passion for transforming how undergraduate science courses are taught. On June 7, 2017, Westervelt talked with Wieman about his new book Improving How Universities Teach Science: Lessons from the Science Education Initiative, which was published by Harvard University Press in May of 2017.

Wieman’s message is that universities should do away with lectures in undergraduate science courses and replace them with active learning methods. Instruction based on active learning substantially improves understanding and retention of complicated material. Plus, students attend more classes and get more out of their classroom experiences. Armed with data to prove that he’s right about the effectiveness of active learning methods, Wieman is determined to convince universities across the nation to give up on the lecture method of teaching science to undergraduates.

The lecture system “grew up haphazardly,” Wieman explained during the interview. “Really it grew before the printing press was invented, and the structures––like the lecture––were how to transmit information to people who didn’t have books.”

Wieman said his research showed that lectures actually circumvent the way the brain processes and learns new information. During a lecture, information just flows by and students typically retain only about 10% of what they hear. And, to make matters worse, many students these days are busy with cell phone apps as the information flies by. Another problem is that universities often value faculty research accomplishments far more than teaching skills.

Westervelt first spoke with Wieman on NPR about improving science teaching in universities on April 14, 2016. That program was entitled “A Nobel Laureate’s Education Plea: Revolutionize Teaching,” In that interview, Westervelt said that Wieman believed that, “the college lecture is the educational equivalent of bloodletting, one long overdue for revision.”

Carl Wieman began his research on undergraduate science education while a Professor of Physics at the University of Colorado Boulder and a Fellow of JILA. Wieman joined the University of British Columbia in 2007 and moved to Stanford University in 2013, where he is Professor of Physics and Professor of the Graduate School of Education. Wieman is a Fellow Adjoint of JILA.



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.


JILA’s NSF Physics Frontier Center follows University of Colorado polices for ensuring harassment-free environments.  For more detailed information please read the whole Discrimination and Harassment Policy and Procedures.