July 2008 Newsletter

From the Chair

Pierre Meystre, The University of Arizona

Once again, the DAMOP Annual Meeting was a resounding success, showcasing some of the most exciting current developments in modern physics. Near record participation, stimulating science, and outstanding jobs by both the local committee and the program committee all contributed to what remains by far the best general meeting in AMO science. Maybe the best barometer of the health of the field is that a remarkable 45% of the participants were students. The fact that we continue to attract the best and the brightest bodes very well indeed for the future.

With well over 900 attendees, the general trend in the linear growth of the DAMOP meeting continues. The large student participation is an unambiguous indication that things are not likely to stop soon, especially when also considering the explosive developments in relatively new directions such as e.g. ultrafast science, quantum information, and ultracold physics. These are all “spin-offs” that feed heavily on the more “traditional” aspects of atomic, molecular and optical physics, and in turn feed back into them. The strong coupling between these various subfields is of course one of the major strengths and attractions of AMO science, as well as a source of its amazing capability to reinvent itself.

Because of these very positive developments, it is however becoming increasingly challenging to identify University settings able to handle our annual meeting. (For example, the 2010 DAMOP meeting in Houston will take place in a relatively large hotel/conference center rather than on a University campus.) This is a good problem to have, but a problem nonetheless.

It is therefore time to initiate a conversation about the future format of our meeting. Clearly, that discussion will also implicitly involve thoughts about our collective vision for the future of DAMOP: Do we want to keep expanding our meeting, or keep it small? Do we want to be a big tent that is proactive in welcoming emerging “spin-off” areas? Would we rather be more focused and return to the more “cozy” meetings that the more senior amongst us fondly remember? On a more practical side, do we want to limit the number of oral presentations, increase the number of parallel sessions, extend the meeting duration? Is it preferable to move from a “local” to a “national” organization? These are all difficult questions, whose answers are bound to have important implications for the future.

To start addressing these issues, we have recently formed an ad hoc committee on “DAMOP Meeting Format and Organization Improvements, chaired by David Schultz. His article later in this Newsletter reports on a Town Hall meeting held at the Penn State DAMOP. I urge everybody to become involved in the conversation started at that occasion and to contact David or any member of his committee with your ideas and comments.

On a completely different topic, we are planning on initiating a fund raising effort to increase the endowment of our various Prizes and Awards. Right now, the idea is to morph the DAMOP Publicity Committee and to redirect its mission toward that goal. Here again, I call for ideas and volunteers. More to come in a future newsletter.

Finally, it is not too early to mark your calendars with the dates of the next two DAMOP meetings:

  • DAMOP 2009: May 19-23, 2009, Charlottesville, VA
  • DAMOP 2010: May 25-29, 2010, Houston, TX

Have a great summer!

DAMOP Election–Results

DAMOP's annual election of officers takes place each spring. This year elections were held for the positions of Vice Chair, Secretary/Treasurer, and two Executive Committee Members-at-Large. Voting opened on 9 April 2008 and closed on 21 May 2008 just in time for DAMOP. As usual, the results reflect the high degree of interest the DAMOP members have in the governance of their division, and the high regard they have for their candidates. DAMOP’s total membership now reaches 2860 and 621 or ~22% percent of our members voted. We would like to thank everyone who voted and all of the candidates for agreeing to run. Special thanks are due to Luis Orozco, Chair of the Nominating Committee. As anyone knows who has been through the ordeal, this is one of the toughest committee assignments to endure.

Congratulations to the newly elected:

Vice Chair: Christopher Monroe (University of Maryland)
Secretary/Treasurer: Carol Tanner (University of Notre Dame)
Member-at-Large: Nicolas Bigelow (University of Rochester)
Member-at-Larger: Linda Young (Argonne National Laboratory)

The current full slate of officers appears at the head of this newsletter and on the APS web page.

In the spring of 2009 the DAMOP election will include openings for Vice Chair and two Members-at-Large. If you are interested getting your feet wet in the political arena, try running for one of these positions or suggest a friend by contacting the new chair of the Nominating Committee, Tim Gay (Univ. of Nebraska, tgay@unlnotes.unl.edu). It’s a whole lot of fun!

The latest committee assignments when finalized will be posted on this APS web page.

DAMOP 2008

Highlights from Penn State

From: David Weiss and Kurt Gibble, Penn State

The 39th DAMOP Meeting of the American Physical Society was held 27-31 May 2008 under sunny skies on the beautiful Penn State University Park campus in State College, PA. There were 922 participants, the second highest ever and a 9% increase over last year’s total. The vitality of our division is reconfirmed each year by the ever-increasing number of student attendees at our annual meeting. This year’s meeting included 419 student participants, the highest ever.

Two special events were held before the start of the regular DAMOP sessions. On Tuesday 27 May, 97 registrants participated in the Graduate Student Symposium, which covered recent advances at the forefront of AMO science. An informative array of tutorials were presented by several speakers: Pierre Meystre (The Univ. of Arizona) “Quantum Optics,” Brian DeMarco (U. of Illinois) “Quantum Degenerate Gases,” Dave Wineland (NIST-Boulder) “Quantum Information,” and Phil Bucksbaum (Stanford Univ.) “Ultra-fast Physics.” The workshop also included lunch and a tour of Penn State AMO Physics Labs.

The second special event held on Tuesday was the now-traditional Educators’ Day with 25 Pennsylvania high school physics teachers attending. The workshop consisted of lectures and hands-on laboratory sessions. Lectures included “The coolest stuff in the universe,” by 1997 Nobel Prize winner Bill Phillips (NIST Gaithersburg and the Joint Quantum Institute) and “How things work,” by Lou Bloomfield (U. of Virginia). The workshop was a great success thanks to Penn State Lecturer Steven van Hook’s organization and the Penn State Eberly College of Science’s sponsorship.

The official DAMOP events began with the Welcome Reception on Tuesday evening, in the Ballroom of the Nittany Lion Inn, an historic site on The Penn State campus. At the reception and throughout the conference, the Inn provided a comfortable, caffeine and calorie-rich environment that stimulated discussions between colleagues from around the world.

The conference opened Wednesday morning with remarks by DAMOP’s own Dan Larson, Dean of the Penn State Eberly College of Science. The excellent scientific program consisted of 96 invited talks, 367 contributed talks, and 385 posters. It began with the Plenary DAMOP Prize Session featuring talks by the Davisson-Germer Prize winner, Horst Schmidt-Böcking (Univ. of Frankfurt) and the Allis Prize winner, Kenneth Kulander (Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory). The mornings and early afternoons were filled by 6 parallel oral sessions punctuated by well-attended late-afternoon poster sessions with refreshments and beer from a local microbrewery. The poster sessions showcased a wide scope of science revealing the range and depth of research in our field.

Physical Review Letters (PRL) celebrated its 50th Anniversary this year, and DAMOP recognized its appreciation for the importance of this journal in the development of AMO science with a special session. Daniel Kleppner (MIT) gave a captivating historical talk that ranged from the beginning of the journal, as conceived by Samuel Goudsmit, to the present. His talk was followed by that of Deniz Van Heijnsbergen (APS) who described how PRL grew in stature to became the careering shaping journal of its authors.

Throughout the conference, The Exhibit Hall in the Nittany Lion Inn featured refreshments and displays by 11 companies and organizations with close ties to the DAMOP community, including Acculight, Cambridge U. Press, Coldquanta, High-Q Laser, IOP Publishing, New Focus, Teachspin, Thorlabs, Toptica, Vescent Photonics, and The Univ. of Arizona College of Optical Sciences.

One of the conference highlights was a public lecture on Wednesday evening by 1997 Nobel Prize winner Steven Chu (Univ. of California and Director of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory), which drew about 725 people including many from the State College community. Prof. Chu has recently turned part of his scientific attention toward the issues surrounding the energy security of our nation and the world. He gave an eye opening presentation entitle “The World’s Energy Crisis and What We Can Do About It.” He made the severity of our current situation clear by describing the basic aspects of the energy problem and gave a flavor for the innovative research that may lead to a sustainable energy future. All attendees were rewarded with a highly inspiring talk and Penn State Creamery ice cream.

The conference banquet on Thursday evening filled the banquet hall to capacity with ~950 people. Attendees were entertained by Lou Bloomfield who gave an entertaining multimedia presentation entitled “Explaining how things work even when they don’t.” Several DAMOP members were honored at the banquet with awards. The honors included the announcement of the new APS Fellows in our division who each received a certificate and pin. The participants in the Thesis Prize Session (details below) were recognized, and the DAMOP thesis prize was awarded to David Moehring. The APS announced a new award this spring with the initiation of a recognition program for its "Outstanding Referees." Several DAMOP members were recognized for their tireless efforts as referees (photo below). Finally, official division leadership was passed from Professor William Stwalley (U-Conn.) to Professor Pierre Meystre (The Univ. of Arizona).

A number of committee and business meetings, which may go unnoticed by many, are always held at DAMOP. These meetings are where opinions are expressed from which important decisions are made about the future of our APS division. On Friday at the Town Hall Meeting, a central topic of discussion was the format of future DAMOP conferences. A report by David Schultz Chair of the ad hoc DAMOP Meeting Format and Organization Improvement Committee appears below.

Finally, the plenary Hot Topics Session wrapped up the conference around mid-day Saturday 31 May with exciting talks by Nergis Mavalvala (MIT), Karl Nelson (Penn State), Edvardas Narevicius (UT-Austin), and Ferdinand Brennecke (Inst. for Quant. Elect. ETH).

A good time was had by all, and we look forward to next year’s DAMOP meeting in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Scenes from the Penn State DAMOP

DAMOP 2008 The Nittany Lion Inn courtyard provided a quiet place for discussion
The Nittany Lion Inn courtyard provided a quiet
place for discussion.
The Ballroom of the Nittany Lion Inn took on many roles, but none more important than the plenary sessions
The Ballroom of the Nittany Lion Inn took on
many roles, but none more important than
the plenary sessions.
Refreshments at the Nittany Lion Inn.
Refreshments at the Nittany Lion Inn.
The poster sessions were at least as much fun as they look here
The poster sessions were at least as much fun
as they look here.
Some of DAMOP’s heroic referees recognized at the banquet.
Some of DAMOP’s heroic referees recognized
at the banquet.
A smile break from heavy conferencing.
A smile break from heavy conferencing.
With the close of DAMOP 2008, Bill Stwalley graciously moved into the enviable position of Past Chair.
With the close of DAMOP 2008, Bill Stwalley
graciously moved into the enviable
position of Past Chair.

Student Travel Support

The level of student participation at DAMOP meetings has always been a pride and joy of this division. Student travel support from NIST has been one of the most consistent driving forces that make this level of student participation possible. Student travel funds assist those who might not otherwise be able to attend. Over 100 students applied for support. This year NIST granted a total of $5,000 that, combined with DAMOP resources, allowed 50 students to receive up to $500 each in travel support. Thanks very much to NIST, the Education Committee, and in particular its chair Eric Wells (Augustana College), for facilitating these grants.

Plenary Prize Session

It is never too early to start thinking about nominations for the various prizes and awards sponsored by DAMOP and by the APS. Most prizes have a July 1 deadline except for the thesis prize that typically has a deadline early in December. An award nomination packet includes a substantial amount of supporting material so please do not wait until the last minute. More information on prizes of interest to the DAMOP community can be found at this web site.

Graduate Student Thesis Prize Session

We would like to recognize and congratulate all participants in the thesis prize session: Lillian Childress, Peter Rabl, Gretchen Campbell, and David Moehring. These finalists are selected from numerous nominations submitted to the DAMOP Thesis Prize Committee, and the winner is selected by this committee after their presentations in this session. We thank Robin Côté (U. Conn.) and his committee for taking on the difficult task of choosing from this pool of excellent candidates.

About the Thesis Prize Recipient

David MoehringFrom: Robin Côté

Congratulations to the winner, David Moehring. David was raised in Richmond, Indiana and attended Purdue University as an undergraduate student where he was a NCAA scholarship golfer. While an undergraduate, he participated in two Research Experience for Undergraduate programs at the Indiana University Cyclotron Facility and the NASA Langley Research Center. David received his Bachelors degree in Honors Applied Physics with highest distinction in 2001, and shortly thereafter joined the trapped ion quantum computing group of Chris Monroe at the University of Michigan. David’s graduate dissertation presents a theoretical and experimental realization for the entanglement of two trapped atomic ions, including the first explicit demonstration of quantum entanglement between a single trapped ion and its single emitted photon, as well as the entanglement between two macroscopically separated trapped ions. In addition to their promise for scalable quantum information processing, these results provide evidence for the completeness of quantum mechanics via demonstration of Bell inequality violations. In addition to the 2008 DAMOP Thesis Prize, David was awarded the Kent M. Terwilliger Memorial Thesis Prize and the Rackham Distinguished Dissertation Award. Since August 2007, David is an Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellow in the Quantum Dynamics group of Prof. Gerhard Rempe at the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics in Garching, Germany.

Undergraduate Research Session

And now for the bravest of the brave! For an undergraduate to stand up and speak or present a poster to a group of experts takes courage and confidence. We applaud all of the undergraduates who participated in the conference. From the pool of undergraduate participants, we also congratulate the few who were invited to speak in the Undergraduate Research Session: Paul Hess, Joanna Salacka, Aaron Dunn, Justin T. Schultz, and J. Rau. Their presentations were fabulous and spanned a wide variety of research topics.

DAMOP Meeting Format and Organization Improvement Committee: Report From the Penn State Town Hall Meeting

From: David Schultz, Oak Ridge National Laboratory

A spirited and productive Town Hall Meeting was held on Friday afternoon during the Penn State DAMOP. Its purpose was to seek input from the community regarding how we might improve both the format (number of parallel sessions, number and selection of meeting days, special events, …) and organization (venue choice, organizing committee structure, costs and budgets, meeting partners, participation in the March Meeting, …) of the DAMOP Annual Meeting.

This was the first major activity of the DAMOP Meeting Format and Organization Improvement Committee , an ad hoc committee established in order to address the growing cost, complexity, and attendance of our annual meeting. These “growing pains” are recognized as good signs of the vitality of the field, especially since almost half the number of participants at DAMOP are students, and the objective is to make the meeting better and less difficult to organize. Many of the ideas being discussed, therefore, relate to the growth of the meeting, but many are also aimed at improvements that make sense even if the meeting’s attendance, number of talks and posters, number of special events (e.g., Student tutorials, Educator’s Day, Public Lecture), and number of partners (such as DAMPhI, PMFC, and GQI), were not increasing.

About thirty people made comments and suggestions at the Town Hall Meeting, reflecting a diversity of viewpoints and simultaneously the passion and logic behind how members believe we should improve our Annual Meeting. The committee (Scott Bergeson, Tim Gay, Tom Killian, Lou DiMauro, Jim McGuire, Marianna Safronova, and Dave Schultz) would be glad to receive your comments and suggestions throughout the summer and will work to formulate recommendations for DAMOP meeting improvement by the Fall. Thanks for your input as we try to make DAMOP an ever-improving event for the benefit of its members.


We like to think of AMO physics as an enabling science that provides an underlying framework for many areas of research and development. This sentiment is supported by the number of DAMOP members who receive awards sponsored by other APS divisions. Congratulations!


DAMOP nominates several candidates for APS Fellowship each year, and the successful candidates are elected by APS Council. Chris Monroe is the new chair of the DAMOP Fellowship Committee and the deadline is usually set by the committee to be in March or April. It is never too early to start preparing these nominations. Packets are submitted on-line through the APS web page. Details can be found at:




International Conference on Atomic Physics (ICAP) 2008

From: Winthrop Smith, Robin Cote, and Phillip Gould, University of Connecticut-Storrs

The 21st International Conference on Atomic Physics (July 27 - August 1, 2008 at the University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT) is part of an ongoing series of conferences devoted to fundamental studies of atoms, broadly defined. A Web site with the Conference Program and Abstracts can be found at: http://www.phys.uconn.edu/icap2008

The ICAP papers encompass forefront research on basic AMO physics,  emphasizing atoms and their interactions with each other and with  external fields. These meetings grew out of the molecular beams  conferences of the Rabi group. The first ICAP was at NYU in 1968. Later  conferences have been held all even-numbered years, alternating between  North America and other locations, including Europe and recently Brazil, with the next conference planned for Cairns, Australia in 2010. Historically, topics have included quantum electrodynamics, tests of basic symmetries (PCT), precision measurements (including atomic clocks and fundamental constants), laser spectroscopy, ultracold atoms and molecules, Bose-Einstein condensates, degenerate Fermi gases, optical lattices, quantum computing/quantum information with atoms and ions, coherent control, and ultrafast and intense field interactions. Notably, all invited talks are plenary. AMO Nobel laureates Phillips, Cornell, Glauber, Chu and Ketterle will speak at ICAP 2008. The conference is to be preceded by a one-week Summer School for new AMO researchers, organized by the Harvard-MIT Center for Ultracold Atoms in Cambridge, MA. Proceedings will be uploaded to the Web when they are ready.

Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS)

Call for proposals and Annual Users Meeting October 15-18, 2008.

From: Linda Young, Argonne National Laboratory (ANL)

The world’s first x-ray free electron laser, the new Linac Coherent Light Source at Stanford, is scheduled to produce first light in May 2009, with AMO experiments to begin in August 2009. The first beams will be in the soft x-ray region, 800 – 2000 eV, with estimated pulse parameters 1013 photons/pulse, ~100 fs at 120 Hz. Proposals are now being solicited for experiments with soft x-rays at the AMO station (http://lcls.slac.stanford.edu/user/). For technical information on the AMO station, contact jdbozek@slac.stanford.edu. The deadline for submitting proposals is September 1, 2008. 

The 2008 LCLS/SSRL User Meeting will be held October 15-18 at SLAC (http://www-conf.slac.stanford.edu/ssrl-lcls/2008/). October 15 will be a full day describing updates on the LCLS status, endstation plans and user access policies. October 16 will have joint sessions between LCLS and SSRL (Stanford Synchrotron Light Source) featuring science highlights. Of special interest to the DAMOP community, on October 17, there will be a workshop Atomic, Molecular & Optical Physics with the LCLS, organized by John Bozek (LCLS) and Linda Young (ANL). The purpose of this workshop is to discuss AMO experiments for the LCLS. The AMO instrument will be the first online at LCLS, and by the time of this workshop the first round of proposals will have been submitted for consideration. Scientific opportunities and technical challenges for x-ray FEL AMO experiments will be discussed.

Gaseous Electronics Conference (GEC)

From: Tim Gay, Univ. of Nebraska

The Sixty First Annual Gaseous Electronics Conference (GEC) will be held Oct 13-17, 2008 at the Marriott Dallas/Addison Quorum by the Galleria in Dallas, Texas.

The GEC Executive Committee invites the submission of abstracts. Topics include: basic phenomena and plasma processes in partially ionized gases; and the theory and measurement of basic atomic and molecular collision processes. Papers reporting on experimental, theoretical, and computational studies that address either fundamental properties of low-temperature plasmas or their applications are encouraged.

Applications of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • Heavy particle interactions: ion-atom, ion-molecule, neutral-neutral
  • Electron and photon collisions with atoms and molecules
  • Ionospheric phenomena, Ion sources
  • Plasma processing of materials including semiconductors
  • Metals, insulators, MEMS devices and displays
  • Biological and emerging applications of plasmas
  • Plasma-surface interactions, Plasma diagnostics
  • High pressure and micro-plasmas
  • Gas discharge lamps, Gas laser
  • Plasma chemistry and combustion
  • Plasma aerodynamics

Although most papers will deal with low-energy processes, papers that concern electronic or radiative processes produced by high-energy electrons or heavy particles are also welcome.

Additional details can be found at the conference website http://www.utdallas.edu/gec/.

Deadlines: Abstracts – Past, Early registration – August 15, Room reservations – September 21.

DAMOP at the 2009 APS March Meeting

From: Erich Mueller, Cornell

The 2009 APS March Meeting will be held March 16-20, 2009 in Pittsburgh, PA. At the 2008 APS March Meeting, DAMOP sponsored 16 sessions, with nearly 200 abstracts. We expect that DAMOP will represent a similarly large presence next year. We will be sponsoring a "Tutorial" on "cold atoms in optical lattices", and Focus Sessions on "disorder in ultra-cold gases", "magnetism in ultra-cold gases", "number or mass imbalanced Fermi gases and BEC-BCS crossover", and "dipolar gases / cold molecules". Please consider nominating speakers for invited talks–in the past we have had great invited symposia, and this can only continue with active participation from the members of DAMOP. The program committee can only invite speakers who have been nominated. The call for abstracts will be put out in August, and will include details of how to submit an abstract and how to nominate speakers. The abstract deadline will be November 21, 2008.