This award is funded in whole or in part under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (Public Law 117-2). Atomic, Molecular, and Optical (AMO) physics studies fundamental building blocks of functional matter, including atoms and their constituents, molecules, and light at the quantum level. AMO physics has been a cornerstone for modern science and technologies, particularly the emerging field of quantum information science and technology. This project aims to form a strategic partnership between the Department of Physics at Florida International University (FIU) and the JILA Physics Frontier Center (JILA PFC) in the JILA institute to promote and advance diversity and research excellence in AMO physics at both institutions. The research goals will be achieved through two major research thrusts (ultra-cold atomic physics and single-molecule biophysics) that are designed to leverage the world-class experts at JILA PFC as well as the existing research capabilities at FIU. The project will improve the recruitment, retainment, and degree attainment of graduate students from underrepresented groups in both institutions by implementing PREP pathway improvement strategies. This partnership will advance research in AMO physics and improve the diversity of graduate students in both institutions.
The proposed FIU-JILA partnership will conduct research in two major thrusts to advance AMO physics, particularly in understanding (1) many-body physics in ultra-cold atom arrays and (2) single-molecule biophysics. In thrust 1, the investigators will use femtosecond laser-based ultrafast spectroscopy to study many-body effects including interactions, correlations, and collective effects in atom arrays for applications in fundamental many-body physics and quantum technologies. They will also use femtosecond pulses to realize ultrafast manipulation of quantum states in atom arrays. In thrust 2, state-of-the-art single-molecule imaging and measurement techniques including confocal and total internal reflection microscopy, the integration of nanopipette-based electrochemical techniques with the single-molecule fluorescence techniques, the atomic force microscopy-based high-precision single-molecule force techniques, and molecular dynamics simulations will be developed and used to study folding kinetics and dynamics of biomolecules and intracellular single-molecule delivery and detection. The partnership will also improve the diversity of physics graduate students in both FIU and JILA by implementing PREP pathway improvement strategies including faculty/student exchange visits, engaging undergraduate students in summer research at JILA PFC, engaging undergraduate and graduate students in proposed research activities at FIU, student mentoring, and public lectures at the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science in Miami.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.