Founding of JILA - CU-Boulder and NIST

University of Colorado, Boulder, CO

JILA Plaque

The citation on the plaque presented at JILA on July 7, 2012, reads:

JILA is a unique interdisciplinary research and education institute, a partnership between the National Institute of Standards and Technology (a Federal agency) and the University of Colorado Boulder. This plaque honors its achievements since its founding in 1962 in such fields as astrophysics, atomic, molecular and optical physics, biophysics, chemical physics, nanoscience, and precision measurement science.

JILA is located on the campus of the University of Colorado, Boulder and is a joint venture between the University and NIST (formally the National Bureau of Standards, NBS). JILA was founded in 1962 and is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Several other institutions were dedicated that same year, including the Aspen Center for Physics, the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC), and IBM’s TJ Watson Research Center. John Glenn’s historical orbital flight took place that year as well.

According to JILA’s website, research there currently encompasses the following disciplines: Astrophysics, Atomic and Molecular Physics, Biophysics, Chemical Physics, Nanoscience, Optical Physics and Precision measurements.1

Within the last decade, three scientists from JILA were awarded two Nobel prizes in Physics. In 2001 the Nobel Prize was jointly awarded to Eric Cornell and Carl Wieman (both of JILA), and Wolfgand Ketterle (of MIT) "for the achievement of Bose-Einstein condensation in dilute gases of alkali atoms, and for early fundamental studies of the properties of the condensates." 2

In 2005 one half of the Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to John Hall of JILA (and Theodor Hansch of the Max-Planck Institute) for “contributions to the development of laser-based precision spectroscopy, including the optical frequency comb technique.” (2) One application of the Bose-Einstein Condensate (BEC) that was developed at JILA was an atom interferometer.3

There are many innovative applications of the “optical comb” technique that scientists from JILA and collaborators are working on. These applications include molecular sensors useful for detection of gasses such as carbon dioxide and methane4, optical atomic clocks (5), and even a breathalayzer for detecting disease.5

1 About JILA, Jila Website
2 Nobel Prize in Physics Winners 2011-1901
3"An On-Chip Atom Interferometer Using a Bose-Einstein Condensate," Dissertation Ying-Ju Wang Format - PDF
4"JILA unveils improved 'molecular fingerprinting' for trace gas detection," e! Science News
5 Optical Frequency Combs, Jila Website
6 News Coverage of the JILA Breathalyzer, February – March 2008 Format - PDF