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JQI Wins Atomtronics MURI Award

July 7, 2010

Joint Quantum Institute (JQI) scientists have won a highly sought-after MURI award from the U.S. Department of Defense -- one of 32 projects selected for funding in the FY 2010 nationwide competition. The Pentagon will provide a total of $227 million over five years to awardees in the annual Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) program, whose winners were chosen from 152 proposals evaluated by expert merit-review panels.

JQI Fellow Ian Spielman of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the University of Maryland (UMD) heads the winning collaboration, which includes other JQI physicists and researchers from Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Bucknell University. The 2010 MURI winners will receive an average of $7 million each over the five-year term of the award; the exact size of the JQI award will be determined in negotiations between the collaboration and the Army Research Office. 

The research program, titled "Atomtronics: Material and Device Physics of Quantum Gases," will investigate atomtronics, a new field that seeks to create analogues of electronic devices such as transistors and diodes by using ultracold atoms trapped in optical lattices formed by intersecting laser beams. Atomtronics is expected to play a critical role as an interface between quantum computers and conventional electronic components.

JQI now has a total of three active MURI awards. The other two MURIs are headed by JQI Fellows Christopher Monroe of UMD and Paul Julienne of NIST. For details, see JQI Wins Two MURI Awards for FY2009.

Three DoD research offices – the Army Research Office (ARO), the Office of Naval Research (ONR), and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) – fund the MURI program, which “supports research by teams of investigators that intersect more than one traditional science and engineering discipline in order to accelerate both research progress and transition of research results to application,” DoD’s official announcement explains. “Most MURI efforts involve researchers from multiple academic institutions and academic departments. Based on the proposals selected in the fiscal 2010 competition, a total of 67 academic institutions are expected to participate in the 32 research efforts.”

DoD notes that “the MURI program is highly competitive. ARO, ONR, and AFOSR solicited proposals in 30 topics important to DoD and received a total of 411 white papers, which were followed by 152 proposals.”