Center News

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."

 

Deborah Jin Awarded Isaac Newton Medal
Published: 07-01-2014

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 upderpin fundamental quantum behavior. 

"Professor Jin is an outstanding, clever, creative scientist," said Prof. Ed Hinds of the Imperial College London. "Her incredibly complex experiments have significantly advanced our understanding of the behavior of electrons in materials. Through her laser cooling of atoms, she has shown that half-integer spin fermions can be coupled to behave like full integer spin bosons.

"These fermion condensates and the work that she has undertaken on extremely cold polar molecules have helped us go deep into the quantum world, a world that we're only just starting to understand in complex many-body systems. Her work is likely to lead to profound advances in measuring and sensing, as well as quantum computing."

The IOP citation states, Ultracold Fermi gases now represent one of the major activities in all of atomic physics, an activity where Jin remains the leader and pioneer.

Tom Perkins Receives Arthur S. Flemming Award
Published: 06-17-2014

Thomas Perkins received the 2013 Arthur S. Flemming Award at a Washington, D. C., ceremony on June 9. The award was one of 12 given this year to honor outstanding Federal employees in their first 15 years of Federal service. Dr. David Bray, Chief Information Officer for the Federal Communications Commission and a 2012 Flemming Award winner, was the keynote speaker at the event.

“It was a wonderful surprise to receive a 2013 Arthur S. Flemming award," Perkins said. "It is an honor to join such a distinguished group of federal employees, including many JILA/NIST colleagues. I am thankful to my group for all their hard work that made it possible and to NIST management for taking the time to recognize individual scientists.”

Perkins joins JILAns David Nesbitt (1991), Debbie Jin (2003) and Jun Ye (2005) as well as Lewis Branscomb, Pete Bender, David Hummer, and Steve Leone as a winner of this prestigious award.

The Arthur S. Flemming Awards were established by the Downtown Jaycees in 1948 to recognize outstanding performance in all areas of the Federal service. Past award recipients include Daniel Patrick Moynihan, John Chancellor, Neil Armstrong, Elizabeth Dole, and Nobel Laureate William Phillips of NIST Gaithersburg. More than 500 individuals have received this award since it was established.

Support for the Flemming Awards is provided by Federal Management Systems, Inc. and the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy & Public Administration at the George Washington University.

Henry Kapteyn, Margaret Murnane, and Dana Anderson Capture CU-Boulder Technology Transfer Awards
Published: 04-22-2014

The University of Colorado Technology Transfer Office (TTO) presented awards to Henry C. Kapteyn, Margaret Murnane, and Dana Anderson on April 24 for representing the spirit of innovation at CU-Boulder and best practices in commercialization of university technologies, according to a press release issued by TTO on April 21. 

TTO recognized Henry C. Kapteyn and Margaret Murnane as its Inventors of the Year, CU-Boulder. The two researchers are Fellows of JILA and physics professors at CU Boulder. Their joint group develops ultrafast lasers, including devices that produce coherent laser-like x-ray beams. These technologies have applications in research on natural processes and in the visualization of nanoscale processes important for the development of nano devices. In 1994, Kapteyn and Murnane founded KMLabs to commercialize their ultrafast lasers and make them available to academic and industry researchers. Recently, they have sold their devices to companies developing technologies such as micromachining.

TTO also recognized Cold Quanta, co-founded by Fellow Dana Anderson, as Boulder Company of the Year. ColdQuanta manufactures cutting-edge cold- and ultracold-atom technologies. These technologies incorporate Bose-Einstein condensates, a new form of matter created at temperatures just above absolute zero. Applications for ColdQuanta technologies include atomic clocks, navigation systems for submarines and spacecraft, and quantum computing. The opportunity to realize these advanced systems grew out of decades of research by Anderson, who is also a CU-Boulder physics professor.

"TTO is pleased to highlight the contributions that (JILA) researchers and companies have made to their fields," said MaryBeth Vellequette, director of technology transfer for Cu-Boulder. "Their commitment to creating real-world impact for their (research) deserves recognition."

Cindy Regal Receives 2014 Cottrell Scholars Award
Published: 02-20-2014

Cindy Regal has been selected to receive a 2014 Cottrell Scholars Award from the Research Corporation for Science and Advancement. The Cottrell Scholar Awards are given to early career faculty members who excel at both research and teaching. The awards target scholarship designed to improve undergraduate science education at research universities in the United States.

Deborah Jin Awarded Comstock Prize in Physics
Published: 01-16-2014

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 ultracold fermionic atoms gases, and for pioneering work in polar molecular quantum chemistry.” The honor includes a 25,000 prize and an additional $25,000 to support the recipient’s research.

”We are delighted that Debbie’s world leadership in ultracold atoms and molecules has been recognized with this major award,” said Tom O’Brian, Chief of the Quantum Physics Division, the NIST part of JILA.

Jin will receive the award at a ceremony in Washington, DC on Sunday April 27, 2014, during the Academy’s annual meeting. Jin was elected in 2005 to membership in the Academy, one of the youngest women to be elected to this leading organization of prestigious scientists. However, all North American residents are eligible for the Comstock Prize, and academy membership is not a criterion for selection. 

The Comstock Prize was established through a fund established by Cyrus B. Comstock, a prominent member of the academy and Colonel in the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers who passed away in 1910. The Comstock Prize has been awarded about every five years since 1913.

Steve Cundiff Named IEEE Fellow
Published: 01-14-2014

Steve Cundiff was named an IEEE Fellow on January 1, 2014. In electing him as a Fellow, the Board of Directors of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. cited him "for contributions to self-referenced optical frequency combs and ultrafast nonlinear solid-state spectroscopy."

"I am delighted to share the good news with you and to congratulate you on having this distinguished individual on your staff," said J. Roberto B. de Marca, IEEE President and CEO in a letter to Thomas O'Brian, chief of NIST's Quantum Physics Division here at JILA.

The IEEE Fellowship is one of the most prestigious honors of the IEEE. It is bestowed upon a limited number of Senior Members who have made outstanding contributions to the electrical and information technologies and sciences for the benefit of humanity and the profession. Only about one-tenth of one percent of IEEE members become Fellows.

Ana Maria Rey to Receive 2013 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers
Published: 12-30-2013

President Barack Obama has named Ana Maria Rey as one of 102 recipients of the 2013 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. This award is the highest honor bestowed by the United States government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their research careers. Rey will receive her award at a Washington, DC ceremony in 2014.

"The impressive achievements of these early-stage scientists and engineers are promising indicators of even greater successes ahead," said President Obama. "We are grateful for their commitment to generating the scientific and technical advancements that will ensure America's global leadership for many years to come."

The awards reflect the Obama administration's priority of producing outstanding scientists and engineers to advance our nation's goals, tackle grand challenges, and contribute to the American economy. They were established by President Clinton in 1996 and are coordinated by the Office of Science and Technology Policy within the Executive Office of the President.

Konrad Lehnert Named Fellow of the American Physical Society
Published: 12-12-2013

Konrad Lehnert has been named a Fellow of the American Physical Society! Lehnert was elected “for developing experimental methods that enable the quantum control and measurement of micro-mechanical oscillators and for developing practical microwave amplifiers that operate at the quantum limit.”

Eric Cornell Featured in NOVA’s Making Stuff Colder on October 30, 2013
Published: 11-04-2013

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 find it worth watching the entire show all the way down to absolute zero.

Ana Maria Rey Named 2014 MacArthur Foundation Fellow
Published: 09-25-2013

Theorist Ana Maria Rey has received a 2014 MacArthur Fellowship, or “Genius Grant.” She is the third JILA Fellow to win a genius grant, joining Deborah Jin (2003) and Margaret Murnane (2000). The MacArthur Fellowship includes a $625,000 unrestricted grant. Rey was cited for being an “atomic Physicist advancing our ability to simulate, manipulate, and control novel states of matter through fundamental conceptual research on ultra-cold atoms.”

Rey works across the disciplines of atomic, molecule, optical, and condensed-matter physics. Her aim is to use mathematical models to describe the complex behavior of nature. Her research on ultracold optical-lattice systems is contributing to advances in quantum simulation and quantum information. This work is expected to help experimentalists achieve large-scale quantum entanglement between atoms in the laboratory.

Rey is well known in the physics community for her collaborations within JILA and with researchers across the country and in Europe. With her insights, experimentalists are investigating the simulation, manipulation, and control of novel states of matter such as quantum magnets, superfluids, and insulators. At JILA, Rey is working with experimentalist Jun Ye on the development of a strontium-lattice optical atomic clock and two quantum simulators: the Sr-lattice clock and a second that uses ultracold polar molecules.

Rey is widely respected as a mentor for young scientists. She leads a group of graduate students and postdocs that is unusually large and productive. A recent graduate student, Michael Foss-Feig, won the 2013 Best Thesis Prize from the American Physical Society Division of AMO Physics. Ana Maria won the same Thesis Prize herself in 2005 as a University of Maryland graduate student mentored by Charles Clark of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

Rey received a B.S. (1999) from the Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá and a Ph.D. (2004) from the University of Maryland. She was a postdoctoral researcher (2004–2005) with NIST and a postdoctoral fellow (2005–2008) at the Institute for Theoretical Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, prior to joining the University of Colorado at Boulder, where she is currently a fellow at JILA and a research assistant professor in the Department of Physics. Rey’s salary and her research program are fully supported by NIST and her external grants.

Ana Maria Rey Wins Maria Goeppert Mayer Award
Published: 09-24-2013

Ana Maria Rey of JILA and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has won the 2014 Maria Goeppert Mayer Award of the American Physical Society. Rey is one of the world’s top young theoretical physicists. Her specialty is atomic, molecular, and optical physics, an area in which she has shown a remarkable talent for suggesting practical applications of her theory to key experiments. Her hallmark collaborations at JILA and NIST include the fields of ultracold molecules, neutral-atom optical lattice atomic clocks, and quantum simulations. In addition to groundbreaking work at NIST and JILA, Rey collaborates with leading scientists around the world.

Rey is a JILA Fellow, an Associate Research Professor at the University of Colorado, and a NIST Associate. A native of Columbia, Rey joined JILA in 2008 as a CU Fellow whose salary is funded by NIST.

The Maria Goeppert Mayer Award recognizes outstanding achievement by a woman physicist in the early years of her career. The award provides opportunities for Rey to present her seminal work to others through public lectures (in the spirit of Maria Geoppert Mayer). The award consists of $2,500 plus a $4000 travel allowance that will allow Rey to give lectures at four institutions and at the meeting of the American Physical Society at which the award is bestowed. Rey will also receive a certificate citing her contributions to physics.

Deborah Jin Wins L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Award
Published: 08-27-2013

The U.S. Department of Energy today announced the members of the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board (SEAB). The nineteen member board comprised of scientists, business executives, academics and former government officials will serve as an independent advisory committee to Energy Secretary Moniz. Deborah Jin, a physicist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology and Professor Adjoint for Physics at the University of Colorado Boulder has been named to the committee. Jin also is a fellow of JILA, a joint institute of CU-Boulder and NIST. - See more at: http://www.colorado.edu/node/2983331#sthash.38UKimf5.dpuf

David Nesbitt honored with 2013 Pacesetter Award for his work in Science Education
Published: 08-26-2013

David Nesbitt has been awarded the 2013 Pacesetter Award in the science category. For nineteen years, David has spent one Saturday each month teaching youngsters, who range in age from 8 to 17, and their parents all about the wonders of science. In 1994 he took over as director of the CU Wizards program and has greatly expanded the range of scientific topics.

The annual Pacesetter Award has been presented by the publisher and editor of the Daily Camera for twenty-seven years to awardees in ten categories of community service and achievement.

From the Daily Camera presenters:

[David] has been instrumental in inspiring Boulder's youngsters to learn more about how things work. It doesn't hurt that he engages his audience in fun and exciting events that often possess a tiny hint of danger.

The Pacesetter Awards presentation and luncheon is being held at 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, August 27, 2013 at the Millenium Harvest House hotel. For more information about attending, please see the Pacesetter awards link.

James Thompson Awarded Department of Commerce Bronze Medal
Published: 08-07-2013

James Thompson has been named the winner of a 2013 Department of Commerce Bronze Medal for his work on pioneering superradiant lasers. The superradiant laser is a quantum device that emits coherent lasing photons.

The DoC Bronze Medal is the highest honor the NIST Director can bestow upon NIST staff for outstanding accomplishments. The Bronze Medal citation reads “For pioneering the development of an entirely new form of laser, vastly improving stability for a broad range of precision measurement and research.”

Thompson will be honored at the NIST Annual Awards ceremony in Gaithersburg, Maryland. The ceremony is tentatively planned for December 4, 2013. NIST’s Quantum Physics Division will provide travel expenses for Thompson and a guest to the Gaithersburg event.

The Boulder Laboratories are also planning to host a local awards ceremony in early December.

Ana Maria Rey Wins “Great Minds in STEM” Most Promising Scientist Award
Published: 08-01-2013

Theorist Ana Maria Rey has been given the 2013 “Great Minds in STEM” Most Promising Scientist Award. The honor is also known as the HENAAC (Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Awards Conference) Award.

The Most Promising Scientist Award is an early career award for Hispanic-American researchers. Rey is a top young AMO theorist who has made important contributions to NIST and JILA in the fields of ultracold atoms, ultracold molecules, atomic clocks, quantum information, and other areas.

Rey and her group often get directly involved in planning the details of experiments. Their work has made possible many breakthroughs in AMO physics, precision measurement, and quantum simulation. The Rey group is well known for its insightful suggestions for improving laboratory experiments.

Rey came to JILA in 2008 as a Columbian citizen, with the intention of becoming a NIST employee when she receives U.S. citizenship within the next couple of years. She is currently an employee of the University of Colorado and a NIST associate.

Rey will receive the award at the 25th annual Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Awards Conference, which will be held October 3–5 in New Orleans.

Henry Kapteyn Elected as a Member of the National Academy of Sciences
Published: 04-30-2013

Henry Kapteyn has been elected to membership in the National Academy of Sciences, the academy announced on April 30, 2013. Kapteyn joins seven other members of the JILA faculty as members of the academy. They include John Hall (1984), Carl Wieman (1995), Eric Cornell (2000), Margaret Murnane (2004), Deborah Jin (2005) and Jun Ye (2011). NIST Nobel Laureate Dave Wineland and CU Physics Professors Noel Clark and John Wahr are also academy members.

Kapteyn's research interests include the development of new light sources at short wavelengths and their use in studies of dynamic processes in material and chemical systems. Kapteyn recently developed high-energy ultrashort-pulse laser technology in collaboration with Margaret Murnane. The new technology makes it possible to generate coherent extreme ultraviolet and soft x-ray bursts of femtosecond and attosecond duration.

The Kapteyn/Murnane group invented the first sub-10 femtosecond modelocked Ti:sapphire laser that is now a standard fixture in thousands of laboratories around the world. The group also developed technologies to amplify very short pulses to high peak powers. These new technologies have been adopted worldwide for multiple applications in science and technology. They have been commercialized through a Boulder, Colorado, spin-off company, KMLabs Inc. Professor Kapteyn serves as CEO of KMLabs.

Additional recognition of Kapteyn's accomplishments include the Ahmed Zewail Award in Ultrafast Science and Technology, the Arthur L Schawlow Prize, the R. W. Wood Prize, and the Willis E. Lamb Award for Laser Science and Quantum Optics. Kapteyn was elected to the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2007.

David Nesbitt Elected as 2013 Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
Published: 04-24-2013

David Nesbitt has been elected as a 2013 member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He joins some of the world’s most accomplished leaders from academia, business, public affairs, the humanities, and the arts, including JILA Fellows Carl Lineberger, Eric Cornell, Margaret Murnane, and Deborah Jin, Fellow emeritus Carl Wieman, and such luminaries as George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Daniel Webster, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Albert Einstein, and Winston Churchill.

“Our deepest congratulations go out to David from all of JILA for his recognition by the academy,” said JILA Chair Murray Holland.  “David has made seminal contributions to diverse fields of both chemistry and physics, including laser spectroscopy, gas-phase reaction dynamics, nanomaterials, and single-molecule biophysics. His election to this prestigious honorary society is well deserved.”

The American Academy of Arts and Sciences Class of 2013 also includes Bruce Springsteen, Robert DeNiro, Annie Dillard, Pete Seeger, Herbie Hancock, Sally Field, Rene Fleming, John Glenn, and ... 2012 Nobel Laureate Dave Wineland of NIST Boulder.

Nesbitt joins one of the nation’s most prestigious organizations, which is also a leading center for independent policy research. Its members make contributions to science and technology policy, energy and global security, social policy and American institutions, and the humanities, arts, and education.

“Election to the Academy honors individual accomplishment and calls upon members to serve the public good,” said Academy President Leslie C. Berlowitz. “We look forward to drawing on the knowledge and expertise of these distinguished men and women to advance solutions to the pressing policy challenges of the day.”

Margaret Murnane Elected Honorary Member of the Royal Irish Academy
Published: 04-17-2013

Margaret Murnane was elected an Honory Member of the Royal Irish Academy in March of 2013. She was nominated for the honor by Professor Eugene Kennedy, MRIA, and Professor Luke Drury, MRIA. Murnane is a Fellow of JILA and a Distinguished Professor in the Departments of Physics and Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

The Royal Irish Academy was founded in 1785 for the advancement of learning and scholarship in Ireland. The Academy's modern mission is faithful to its founding charter. This all-Ireland institution promotes excellence in scholarship, recognizes achievements in learning, and undertakes its own research projects, particularly in areas relating to Ireland and its heritage. The Academy is looking forward to Murnane's participation and involvement in its mission.

 

Deborah Jin to be honored as 2013 L'Oréal-UNESCO Awards Laureate for North America
Published: 03-26-2013

On Thursday, March 28, Deborah Jin will be honored in a ceremony at the Sorbonne in Paris as the '2013 L'Oréal-UNESCO Awards Laureate for North America', as part of the L'Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science program.  One of five 2013 regional laureates, she was cited for being the first scientist in the world to create near absolute zero temperature potassium-rubidium (KRb) molecules that allow her, and colleagues, to slow chemical reactions down in order to see what goes on during molecular processes.

Dr. Jin explained to L'Oréal-UNESCO:

“Finding ways to use new knowledge coming from this field could potentially transform society. The study of ultra-cold molecules could lead to new precision-measurement tools, new methods for quantum computing and help us better understand materials that are essential to technology.”

Since its founding in 1998, the L'Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science program has honored 77 Award Laureates and more than 1,652 Fellows -- women working across the spectrum of research.

For more background, please see Deborah Jin Wins L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Award (October 19, 2012, JILA Scientific Communications).

Steve Cundiff Wins Silver Medal for JILA’s New X-Wing
Published: 10-22-2012

Steve Cundiff will receive a Silver Medal from the U. S. Department of Commerce for his leadership of JILA’s X-Wing project at an award ceremony to be held in Washington, D. C. on January 8, 2013. He is also being honored for this achievement during the 40th annual NIST Awards Ceremony at NIST in Gaithersburg, Maryland on December 5, 2012.

JILA is the joint research institute between NIST and the University of Colorado, Boulder. For 50 years, JILA has been a world leader in measurement science research and education of scientists who have become leaders in metrology, innovation, education, and national policy. Before Cundiff was able to secure support for the new building, JILA’s aging facilities were increasingly unable to provide the control of vibration, temperature, humidity, and air cleanliness required for a world-class research and measurement science.

The existing JILA facilities also were filled to overflowing, barely able to accommodate the existing experiments and people, with no room for growth. And while the success of JILA research and teaching relies on close collaborations among people from diverse scientific backgrounds, the old facilities didn’t encourage the informal collaborations and “productive collisions” that spark new ideas.

Today, Cundiff is being recognized “for his initiative and sustained leadership in envisioning and then seeing through to completion of … the JILA X-Wing Laboratory, a $35 M advanced research and teaching laboratory. This unique facility will benefit the nation through mission-critical advances in measurement science,” according to the citation for the Silver Medal. Thanks to Cundiff’s leadership in a team of NIST, CU, and private sector partners, the JILA X-Wing provides world-class research and teaching lab facilities, provides room for JILA to grow, and is a model for space that encourages collaboration and interaction.

After learning he had won the Silver Medal, Cundiff recapped the 12-year history of efforts to get more space for JILA. The idea for a new JILA building was first raised by Jim Faller in 2000, but failed to get traction. Five years later, after Cundiff had become Chief of NIST’s Quantum Physics Division (QPD), he ran the idea by NIST Director Bill Jeffrey. Jeffrey was sufficiently receptive to the idea that Cundiff returned to JILA to ask the Fellows if they wanted to pursue the idea. A majority favored the new building.

Then the real work began. The vision, funding, design, and construction of the X-Wing required a collaboration among NIST scientists and senior NIST management; CU faculty and senior leadership; NIST and CU facilities management and staff; Congressional and Administration funders; architects, engineers, and construction contractors.

“Dr. Cundiff was crucial to the success of this complex partnership, leading the team to overcome many barriers, including potential problems with funding as the U. S. economy soured, the need for major design changes required by CU architectural standards, the need to coordinate with other CU organizations as the X-Wing was constructed in a very tight space immediately surrounded by other CU departments, and the need to coordinate CU, NIST, and private sector partners all operating under different constraints,” wrote current QPD Chief Tom O’Brian in his nomination letter for the medal.

All this planning came to fruition in May of 2010 with ground breaking for the X-Wing. During construction Cundiff and JILA staffer Doug Johnson worked tirelessly to keep things on track for building occupancy in early 2012.

“During the construction, Steve was conscious of my research needs,” says Jun Ye. “I run a complex lab where we push the frontiers of measurement science. Steve worked to make sure my research was left mostly intact.

“When I mentioned a problem to Steve during the construction, he took care of it. I’m grateful for that. Otherwise, I would have been out of business for a year and a half while the new building was under construction.”

In addition to building new labs and protecting old ones, Cundiff succeeded in opening up the entire new wing to daylighting via a large skylight and wide central staircase enclosed by half walls of glass. Even the basement receives daylighting from this arrangement for about three weeks a year around the summer solstice.

“The wide staircase makes it possible for our new collaborative spaces to span multiple floors,” says Cundiff. “JILA scientists, visitors, postdocs, graduate students, and undergraduate students stop and interact with each other on a regular basis.”

The building provides more than the opportunity for creative collaborations, however. It is technically the most complicated building ever built on the CU campus. The advanced lab support systems and the new, larger clean room are the best money can buy. So far the advanced systems in the labs are working as designed.

“My new lab is ten times less dusty than my old lab,” Ye said. The temperature is more stable. It’s cleaner and quieter, with less vibration noise.” The improvements in the new cold-molecule research lab mean that JILA is set to become the world center for research on ultracold molecules. Cundiff is proud the new X-Wing is supporting this exciting development.

Asked how he felt about winning a Silver Medal for his efforts, Cundiff turned reflective for a moment. “I realized I learned a lot doing this project from the very beginning, but I’ll never use it. I’ll never do it again.” Since the completion of the building, Cundiff’s full attention is once more on his research into the nature of light and its interactions with semiconductors and other materials.

At JILA, we’re glad Steve Cundiff took a side trip into the world of high-tech building construction. We think he earned that medal.

 

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