News Release 

Scientists to present new findings on atoms, molecules, and optics

Quantum choreography, ultraprecise clocks, memory boosters, and related research will debut at the 2021 DAMOP Annual Meeting

American Physical Society

Scientific Meeting Announcement

Tuesday, May 25, 2021--Physicists will share work on atoms, simple molecules, electrons, and light--and how they all interact--during the 52nd Annual Meeting of the American Physical Society Division of Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics (DAMOP).

Held May 31 through June 4, 2021, the virtual meeting features subjects ranging from the highly-anticipated thorium nuclear clock to the future of quantum memory to COVID-19 breath tests.

Researchers will discuss an array of fundamental questions and applied technologies. Topics include dark matter, laser and quantum optics, quantum information science, ultrafast and strong field physics, cold atoms, degenerate gases, many-body physics, charged particle collisions, fundamental constants, and the structure and properties of atoms, ions, and molecules.

Members of the media and student journalists are invited to explore 81 live sessions and 3 on-demand poster sessions. Several highlights are listed below. Please consult the scientific program for the most up-to-date schedule.

Please note all session times are in Central Daylight Time (CDT).

Complimentary registration is available to those with APS press credentials on the general registration page. Request press credentials through this form.

USEFUL LINKS:

Scientific Program: http://meetings.aps.org/Meeting/DAMOP21
Registration: https://engage.aps.org/damop/meetings/annual/registration
Press Credentials Request: https://info.aps.org/press

PRESS TIPS:

TUESDAY, JUNE 1

LIGHT CONTROLS THE DELICATE DANCE OF ATOMIC SPINS (A01.3)
I.I. Rabi prizewinner will discuss new work on creating unusual non-local interactions

Spooky action at a distance gives quantum technology much of its power--as well as its rarity. But what if you could override the preference of most particles for what's nearby and achieve non-local interactions more easily?

2020 MacArthur Fellow and Stanford professor Monika H. Schleier-Smith choreographs quantum spin dynamics using light. An optical resonator serves as a conduit, enabling photons to convey information between distant cold atoms. The technique could help simulate toy models of quantum gravity, answer questions in fundamental physics, and improve quantum technologies such as sensing.

Schleier-Smith will discuss the research that earned her the 2021 I.I. Rabi Prize, as well as preliminary findings from a new experiment.

8:50 a.m. - 9:15 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, June 1, 2021
Abstract: http://meetings.aps.org/Meeting/DAMOP21/Session/A01.3
Contact: schleier@stanford.edu

BUBBLY CULPRIT COULD INTENSIFY RADIATION DAMAGE IN CELLS (C02.2)
Bubble dynamics speed up atomic decay by orders of magnitude

The environment around radiated atoms causes them to decay surprisingly quickly, a phenomenon likely to occur in biological fluids like the water in cells.

"Bubbles in helium droplets form around excited atoms and greatly accelerate interatomic Coulombic decay," said University of Connecticut Postdoctoral Research Associate Aaron LaForge, referring to a critical process in how biological tissues respond to radiation.

When neighboring bubbles merge, the excited atoms collide and then decay orders of magnitude faster than previously expected. LaForge's team applied extreme ultrafast UV laser pulses to tiny droplets of superfluid helium, incorporated theoretical modeling, and published the results last month in Physical Review X.

10:42 a.m. - 11:12 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, June 1, 2021
Abstract: http://meetings.aps.org/Meeting/DAMOP21/Session/C02.2
Publication: https://journals.aps.org/prx/abstract/10.1103/PhysRevX.11.021011
Contact: aaronlaforge@gmail.com

NEW BREATH TEST COULD IMPROVE COVID-19 RESEARCH (E03.8, F01.13)
Lasers can detect multiple breath biomarker molecules with ultrasensitivity

Exhaled human breath contains molecules that reveal health conditions, but these biomarkers often exist at extremely low concentrations. Researchers at JILA, a joint institute of The University of Colorado Boulder and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, developed a mid-infrared laser-based technique to identify breath biomarkers with exceptionally high sensitivity.

The measurements work at great speed, demonstrated with human breath after ripe banana consumption. The technique could simultaneously detect at least ten biomarkers known to be relevant for conditions like asthma, diabetes, and renal failure.

Recently, the team started investigating breath biomarker differences between people who test positive and negative for COVID-19. "We hope our technique can offer insights into the physiological effects of COVID-19 infection. Breath testing could also turn into a robust noninvasive approach for COVID-19 testing," said JILA graduate student Qizhong Liang.

3:24 p.m. - 3:36 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, June 1, 2021
Abstract: http://meetings.aps.org/Meeting/DAMOP21/Session/E03.8
Contact: Qizhong.Liang@colorado.edu

4:00 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, June 1, 2021
Abstract: http://meetings.aps.org/Meeting/DAMOP21/Session/F01.13
Contact: ya.chan@colorado.edu

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 2

ATOMS AND LIGHT REMEMBER BETTER (M10.6)
Proposed quantum-optical neural network improves data storage and searching

New research brings together the quantum revolution, artificial intelligence, and 500 million years of vertebrate brain evolution in a network that remembers better than standard systems. Physicists from Stanford University, the University of St Andrews, and The Pennsylvania State University propose a neural network made of atoms and light that relies solely on existing, proven technology. The new network would not only store more memories, it could search them more effectively. Now the team is working to build the memory device in the lab. The design is also described in a forthcoming Physical Review X publication.

3:00 p.m. - 3:12 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, June 2, 2021
Abstract: http://meetings.aps.org/Meeting/DAMOP21/Session/M10.6
Publication: https://journals.aps.org/prx/accepted/7107aK79J4418f0db4283d796a6b6916a1697a6cf
Contact: marshbp@stanford.edu

THURSDAY, JUNE 3

PROGRESS TICKS ON TOWARD THORIUM NUCLEAR CLOCK (Q02)
New developments on a long-awaited device with a nuclear heartbeat that could outperform atomic clocks

At an invited session, scientists will discuss next steps toward building the world's first nuclear clock. Such a clock could not only exceed atomic clocks in timekeeping, but also improve seismology, satellite-based navigation, research into spacetime variations in fundamental constants, and searches for dark matter.

Victor Flambaum of the University of New South Wales will explain how the thorium device could help find a new unification theory of the universe and will introduce a possible uranium candidate for a nuclear clock.

Adriana Palffy at the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg discusses two recent Physical Review Letters publications that present new options--doped crystals and highly-charged ions--for controlling the electronic bridge that helps in driving the nuclear clock transition.

Universität Heidelberg's Andreas Fleischmann has captured the most precise measurement of the thorium isomer energy and other relevant excited states, a critical cornerstone for achieving the clock.

Finally, Peter G. Thirolf of the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich will review the status of knowledge on what is presently the best candidate for building the first nuclear clock. He will introduce its many other likely applications and share news from the EU-funded group working to build the thorium nuclear clock.

8:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m. CDT, Thursday, June 3, 2021
Abstracts: http://meetings.aps.org/Meeting/DAMOP21/Session/Q02
Contacts: v.flambaum@unsw.edu.au; palffy@mpi-hd.mpg.de; Andreas.Fleischmann@kip.uni-heidelberg.de; peter.thirolf@physik.uni-muenchen.de

MYSTERY OF THE MISSING MOLECULES (V01.92)
Preliminary results suggest background light cannot account for disappearing NaK molecules

When ultracold sodium-potassium molecules smash together, experiments show that, mysteriously, both molecules disappear. A team based at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics investigated one proposed hiding place--background light--by plunging the molecules into near-total darkness in a new trap setup. But they found nothing, still measuring the same number of losses as collisions and sparking even more questions about where the missing molecules have vanished.

4:00 p.m. CDT, Thursday, June 3, 2021
Abstract: http://meetings.aps.org/Meeting/DAMOP21/Session/V01.92
Contact: roman.bause@mpq.mpg.de

FRIDAY, JUNE 4

THE TURN OF THE SCREW (X07.7)
Gaseous Archimedes' screw pumps out a new state of quantum matter

Researchers from Stanford University and The Pennsylvania State University discovered a never-before-identified state of quantum matter after tinkering with a gas version of an Archimedes' screw. Instead of pumping water up an incline, the "screw"--made from 1D dysprosium gas--excites atoms to higher and higher energies while remaining stable. Beyond revealing an intriguing phenomenon in quantum many-body physics, the new scar state could be useful for protecting quantum information.

9:12 a.m. - 9:24 a.m. CDT, Friday, June 4, 2021
Abstract: http://meetings.aps.org/Meeting/DAMOP21/Session/X07.7
Contact: kyulin@stanford.edu

THE HISTORY OF PHOTONS (X09.8)
Researchers investigate the fate of quantum particles of light passing through atomic clouds

A group from the University of Toronto and the National Research Council Canada are working to crack open a new window on the elusive history of photons. They developed an experimental paradigm to access an unanswered question: Can a photon that passes through a cloud of atoms--instead of being absorbed and ejected--still excite the atoms? Theoretical studies have struggled to explain this important aspect of light-matter interaction. The technique opens up new avenues for experimentally investigating the past behavior of quantum systems.

9:24 a.m. - 9:36 a.m. CDT, Friday, June 4, 2021
Abstract: http://meetings.aps.org/Meeting/DAMOP21/Session/X09.8
Contact: dangulom@unal.edu.co

QUANTUM MOLECULES YOU CAN'T OVERHEAT, DEPLETE, OR BEAT (Z07.3)
Group achieves long-attempted Bose-Einstein condensates from spinning molecules

After decades of attempts, researchers finally cajoled multiple molecules into a single quantum state. Quantum scientists regularly harness groups of atoms, but getting molecules to withstand heating and depleting and stay synchronized proved elusive.

"Our work confirms the long-sought transition between atomic and molecular condensates," said Zhendong Zhang, who will present the research done by a team from the University of Chicago and Shanxi University. Just published, their study could unlock better quantum gases--the linchpin for many desired quantum technologies, from chemical reaction control to information processing to precision measurement.

10:54 a.m. - 11:06 a.m. CDT, Friday, June 4, 2021
Abstract: http://meetings.aps.org/Meeting/DAMOP21/Session/Z07.3
Contact: zhendong@uchicago.edu

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