APS News

DAMOP Meets in Charlottesville

The APS Division of Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics held its annual meeting in Charlottesville, Virginia in May. Featuring more than seventy sessions, the meeting attracted over a thousand physicists from across the country.

The annual award presentations and plenary talks kicked off the meeting. The recipient of the Herbert P. Broida prize, Gustav Gerber, discussed his method to manipulate quantum systems with femto-second laser pulses shaped by a liquid-crystal display. Mikhail Lukin, recipient of the I.I. Rabi prize, spoke about how quantum optic technology is being used in fields as diverse as atomic physics, nanotechnology, many body physics, and quantum information science.

Other highlighted talks included Alex Kuzmich of Georgia Tech who announced his method for greatly improving the lifetime of quantum memory. By minimizing the sensitivity to magnetic fields, Kuzmich has been able to store information on atomic coherences that lasts up to several milliseconds, rather than the few hundreds of microseconds previously achieved. Long term quantum memory could play an important role in future quantum computer developments, matter-light entanglement, and matter qubit rotations.

Ultracold molecules in optical lattices continue to be a major focus of research, with over one hundred papers devoted to the technique. One novel use is a method described by Andrew Ludlow of NIST Colorado to use strontium atoms suspended in an optical lattice to create the next generation of highly accurate atomic clocks. Christopher Foot of the University of Oxford discussed his new method to rotate a two-dimensional optical lattice which he hopes to use to further investigate the quantum Hall effect.

Erik Winfree of Caltech expanded on the established idea of using artificial DNA-like sequenced molecules for computer memory. Winfree discussed what kind of additional technologies would be needed to make molecular programs feasible, including the theoretical models that might describe their behavior and the need for new specialized programming languages.

To lighten things up a bit, Diandra Leslie-Pelecky of the University of Texas, Dallas presented the public lecture about the physics of car racing. Drawing on her book, The Physics of Nascar, Leslie-Pelecky spoke to the crowded hall about how everything from fundamental mechanics to thermodynamics and molecular structures play a major role in the most popular racing sport in America.

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Editor: Alan Chodos