The realization of Bose-Einstein condensates in dilute ultracold atomic gases in 1995 opened a new direction in the study of macroscopic quantum phenomena [1, 2] and was acknowledged by a Nobel Prize in 2001. Many phenomena that were previously only accessible in condensed matter such as superfluidity in liquid helium and superconductivity in various solid state materials were now also open for investigation in atomic systems with the tools developed in atomic, molecular and optical physics . I am currently working with Dr. Gretchen Campbell at the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the Joint Quantum Institute on an ultracold strontium experiment. Previously I was involved in the study of ultracold rubidium atoms in the group of Professor Wolfgang Ketterle at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Applications of these studies include gaining a better understanding of strongly interacting materials which could lead to useful and better materials, and new methods of sensing and measurments for position, timing and navigation. Potentially better materials include those for magnetic data storage and transportation through spintronics, where the spin of an electron is used directly to store and transport information. Potential new platforms for position, timing and navigation include ultrastable atomic clocks and inertial sensing systems which for example do not rely on the global positioning system.
One project I led in the past was creating
artificial magnetic fields for ultracold atoms in optical lattices to study new
topological phases of matter . Systems of charged particles in magnetic fields
have led to many discoveries such as the integer and fractional quantum Hall
effects and have become important paradigms of quantum many-body physics.
Generalizations have led to the realization of topological insulators, initially in
condensed matter  but also in photonic systems [6, 7]. These systems are
interesting because for example, certain fractional quantum Hall
states are thought to be ideal mediums for quantum information processing
because their topological properties make them robust to disturbances.
We were the first, concurrently with the group of Immanuel Bloch , to experimentally realize a uniform magnetic field for ultracold atoms in optical lattices. Specifically, we realized the Harper Hamiltonian , a lattice model for charged particles in a uniform magnetic field with complex tunneling whose energy spectrum is the fractal Hofstadter butterfly . This opened the way for further studies of new topological states of matter with ultracold atoms.
Another project I led was applying the technique of Bragg scattering to ultracold atoms in optical lattices with the goal of studying new magnetic phases of matter . One reason magnetic phases of matter are interesting is because they are believed to form the basis of high-temperature superconductors . Bragg scattering is one technique that can be used to probe magnetic ordering . Bragg scattering relies on the interference of waves scattered coherently from a collection of particles and is the principle behind x-ray and neutron scattering to determine the spatial and spin ordering of materials at the angstrom scale.
We showed that Bragg scattering is a powerful technique to study Heisenberg-uncertainty-limited wavefunction behavior (in both position and momentum space) as well as to study quantum phase transitions in ultracold atomic systems by looking for the revival of Bragg-scattered interference peaks. Our work paved the way for other groups to apply the technique of Bragg scattering to show the onset of antiferromagnetism in a fermionic system .