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Latest News and Research

Phillips named corresponding member of Mexican Academy of Sciences

JQI Fellow, Nobel laureate and Distinguished University Professor William Phillips has been inducted into the Mexican Academy of Sciences (la Academia Mexicana de Ciencias) as a corresponding member. The honor will be marked by an evening event held in Mexico City on March 23.The event includes a talk by Phillips, titled "Time, Einstein and the coolest stuff in the universe," as well as a discussion between Phillips, Mexican Academy of Sciences president Jaime Urrutia Fucugauchi, and JQI Fellow and physics professor Luis Orozco, who nominated Phillips for membership. The entire program will be broadcast live beginning at 6 p.m. EDT.Continue Reading

Wellstood named new UMD Co-Director of JQI

Physics professor and JQI Fellow Fred Wellstood has been appointed the newest UMD Co-Director of JQI. He assumed the role on March 1."Fred has played a major role in the JQI since its founding," says Gretchen Campbell, the current NIST Co-Director of JQI. "Most recently, his tireless efforts helped to design and ultimately build the new Physical Sciences Center at Maryland that many JQI labs now call home. I look forward to working with him to carefully steward JQI’s future."Wellstood came to UMD in 1991 as an Assistant Professor of Physics after earning his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. Upon arriving, he joined the Center for Superconductivity Research, now known as the Center for Nanophysics and Advanced Materials, and began...Continue Reading

Destabilized solitons perform a disappearing act
In the presence of impurities, dark solitons accelerate and vanish from sight

When your heart beats, blood courses through your veins in waves of pressure. These pressure waves manifest as your pulse, a regular rhythm unperturbed by the complex internal structure of the body. Scientists call such robust waves solitons, and in many ways they behave more like discrete particles than waves. Soliton theory may aid in the understanding of tsunamis, which—unlike other water waves—can sustain themselves over vast oceanic distances.Solitons can arise in the quantum world as well. At most temperatures, gas atoms bounce around like billiard balls, colliding with each other and rocketing off into random directions. Near absolute zero, however, certain kinds of atoms suddenly start behaving according to the very different rules of quantum mechanics, and begin a kind of...Continue Reading

Crossing the quantum-chaotic divide
Researchers take a closer look at the emergence of quantum effects and the destruction of chaos.

Chaos is all around us, a fact that weather forecasters know all too well.Their job is notoriously difficult because small changes in air pressure or temperature, which ultimately drive winds and weather systems, can have huge consequences on a global scale. This sensitivity to tiny differences is commonly called the butterfly effect, and it makes weather patterns chaotic and hard to predict.Chaos pops up in many other places, too, and scientists have studied its role in physics for more than a century. But only since the 1980s have physicists investigated the connections between chaos and quantum mechanics—the most fundamental theory we have about the building blocks of the universe.One wrinkle in studying quantum chaos is that quantum physics itself seems to forbid chaotic behavior....Continue Reading

Heads up, high school class of '19: New measurement unit definitions are coming
The meter and the second will soon be pegged to fundamental constants like the speed of light and the charge of the electron.

Next year, scientists expect to change the way we define the basic units with which we measure our universe. An article by scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) written for teachers will help ensure high school physics students are hip to the news.The brief, six-page article, which appears in this month’s issue of The Physics Teacher, is designed to be a resource for teachers who are introducing the International System of Units (SI) into their classrooms. The SI, as the modern form of the metric system, has seven fundamental units, including the meter and the second. It is expected that in 2018, for the first time in history, all seven of these...Continue Reading

Probe for nanofibers has atom-scale sensitivity

Optical fibers are the backbone of modern communications, shuttling information from A to B through thin glass filaments as pulses of light. They are used extensively in telecommunications, allowing information to travel at near the speed of light virtually without loss.These days, biologists, physicists and other scientists regularly use optical fibers to pipe light around inside their labs. In one recent application, quantum research labs have been reshaping optical fibers, stretching them into tiny tapers. For these nanometer-scale tapers, or nanofibers, the injected light still makes its way from A to B, but some of it is forced to travel outside the fiber’s exterior surface. The exterior light, or evanescent...Continue Reading

A quantum year in review

If the looming holiday lull leaves you yearning for news from the quantum world, JQI has you covered. Below we present an overview of our major research and outreach activities from the past year, which marked JQI’s tenth anniversary.In 2016, JQI students, postdocs and Fellows published more than 120 academic papers, about half of which were enabled by the National Science Foundation's Physics Frontier Center at JQI. This year’s publications continued a strong record of scientific output and included work on an innovative quantum computer module powered by atomic ions, a ...Continue Reading

Atomic beltway could solve problems of cosmic gravity

When is a traffic jam not a traffic jam? When it's a quantum traffic jam, of course. Only in quantum physics can traffic be standing still and moving at the same time. A new theoretical paper from scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the University of Maryland suggests that intentionally creating just such a traffic jam out of a ring of several thousand ultracold atoms could enable precise measurements of motion. If implemented with the right experimental setup, the atoms could provide a measurement of gravity, possibly even at distances as short as 10 micrometers—about a tenth of a human hair's width.Continue Reading

Latest News and Research

  • Phillips named corresponding member of Mexican Academy of Sciences

    JQI Fellow, Nobel laureate and Distinguished University Professor William Phillips has been inducted into the Mexican Academy of Sciences (la Academia Mexicana de Ciencias) as a corresponding member. The honor will be marked by an evening event held in Mexico City on March 23.The event includes a talk by Phillips, titled "Time, Einstein and the coolest stuff in the universe," as well... Continue Reading

  • Wellstood named new UMD Co-Director of JQI

    Physics professor and JQI Fellow Fred Wellstood has been appointed the newest UMD Co-Director of JQI. He assumed the role on March 1."Fred has played a major role in the JQI since its founding," says Gretchen Campbell, the current NIST Co-Director of JQI. "Most recently, his tireless efforts helped to design and ultimately build the new Physical Sciences Center at Maryland that many JQI labs... Continue Reading

  • Destabilized solitons perform a disappearing act
    In the presence of impurities, dark solitons accelerate and vanish from sight

    When your heart beats, blood courses through your veins in waves of pressure. These pressure waves manifest as your pulse, a regular rhythm unperturbed by the complex internal structure of the body. Scientists call such robust waves solitons, and in many ways they behave more like discrete particles than waves. Soliton theory may aid in the understanding of tsunamis, which—unlike other water... Continue Reading

  • Crossing the quantum-chaotic divide
    Researchers take a closer look at the emergence of quantum effects and the destruction of chaos.

    Chaos is all around us, a fact that weather forecasters know all too well.Their job is notoriously difficult because small changes in air pressure or temperature, which ultimately drive winds and weather systems, can have huge consequences on a global scale. This sensitivity to tiny differences is commonly called the butterfly effect, and it makes weather patterns chaotic and hard to predict.... Continue Reading

  • Heads up, high school class of '19: New measurement unit definitions are coming
    The meter and the second will soon be pegged to fundamental constants like the speed of light and the charge of the electron.

    Next year, scientists expect to change the way we define the basic units with which we measure our universe. An article by scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) written for teachers will help ensure high school physics students are hip to the news.The brief, six-page article, which appears in this month’s issue... Continue Reading

  • Probe for nanofibers has atom-scale sensitivity

    Optical fibers are the backbone of modern communications, shuttling information from A to B through thin glass filaments as pulses of light. They are used extensively in telecommunications, allowing information to travel at near the speed of light virtually without loss.These days, biologists, physicists and other scientists regularly use optical fibers to pipe light around inside their labs.... Continue Reading

  • A quantum year in review

    If the looming holiday lull leaves you yearning for news from the quantum world, JQI has you covered. Below we present an overview of our major research and outreach activities from the past year, which marked JQI’s tenth anniversary.In 2016, JQI students, postdocs and Fellows published more than 120 academic papers, about half of which were enabled by the National Science Foundation's ... Continue Reading

  • Atomic beltway could solve problems of cosmic gravity

    When is a traffic jam not a traffic jam? When it's a quantum traffic jam, of course. Only in quantum physics can traffic be standing still and moving at the same time. A new theoretical paper from scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the University of Maryland suggests that intentionally creating just such a traffic jam out of a ring of several thousand... Continue Reading

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