Jin wins Isaac Newton Medal of the Institute of Physics


Deborah Jin

Deborah Jin

Deborah Jin has won the 2014 Isaac Newton Medal, the highest accolade given by the Institute of Physics. She was cited for her experimental work in laser cooling atoms. This work has led to the practical demonstration of universal laws that underpin fundamental quantum behavior.

“Professor Jin is an outstanding, clever, creative scientist,” said Professor Ed Hinds of the Imperial College London. “Her incredibly complex experiments have significantly advanced our understanding of the behavior of electrons in materials. Through her laser cooling of atoms, she has shown that half-integer spin fermions can be coupled to behave like full integer spin bosons.”

“These fermion condensates and the work that she has undertaken on extremely cold polar molecules have helped us go deep into the quantum world, a world that we’re only just starting to understand in complex many-body systems. Her work is likely to lead to profound advances in measuring and sensing, as well as quantum computing.”

Below is the announcement from the IOP website, reprinted in full:

2014 Isaac Newton medal of the Institute of Physics

Professor Deborah Jin, JILA and National Institute of Standards and Technology. For pioneering the field of quantum-degenerate Fermi gases.

Dr Jin

Atomic gas Bose-Einstein condensation (BEC) was long the “Holy Grail” of atomic physics. After its 1995 achievement by Cornell and Wieman at JILA and Ketterle at MIT (who shared the 2001 Nobel Prize) the field’s next supreme goal was an ultra-cold, quantum-degenerate, atomic gas of fermions. In the face of strong international competition, Jin was the first to produce this novel quantum material, in 1999, sparking a world-wide explosion of interest. Ultra-cold Fermi gases now represent one of the major activities in all of atomic physics, an activity where Jin remains the leader and pioneer.

Isaac Newton medal

Isaac Newton medal

Producing a quantum degenerate Fermi gas, one so cold that the indistinguishability of its atoms dominates its behaviour, was both more technically challenging and of greater practical importance than the earlier BEC. Electronics, the basis of most of modern technology, works with electrons, which are fermions—particles that obey the Pauli exclusion principle. Jin’s Fermi gases provide an atomic analogue to explore unanswered questions and persistent mysteries of electronic behaviour. Already, she has clarified the previously ill-understood process by which a Fermi gas transitions from a superfluid of loosely associated pairs of fermions to one of strongly bound molecules. She and the many researchers following in her footsteps continue to make new discoveries in a previously inaccessible frontier of physics. Among the questions that Jin’s work has placed within reach is the enduring puzzle of the origin of high-temperature superconductivity, the solution to which has the potential to revolutionize the transmission and use of electrical energy. Jin continues to break new ground, recently creating yet another novel quantum gas, of polar molecules. These interact in ways that shed new light on magnetic phenomena, just as her earlier work shed new light on superconductivity, and may lead to, among other things, transformational improvements in data storage.

Courtesy JILA Scientific Communications

July 8, 2014

Courtesy JILA Scientific Communications
Courtesy JILA Scientific Communications

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