Group News

  • May 2023: Graduation for Cate, Jordan, and Sal
    Congratulations!!! Jordan and Sal did their senior thesis research on microwave atom chip-related topics. Cate worked on microwave chip research since her freshman year and switched to optics for her senior thesis.

    From Left: Jordan Shields, Sal Rego, and Cate Sturner.

  • May 2022: ACZ trap roughness theory paper is published !
    Shuangli Du, Austin Ziltz, and William Miyahira's theory paper on trapping potential roughness in AC Zeeman traps is published in Physical Review A [PDF].

  • May 2022: Graduation for Morgan, Sindu, Stephen, and Kerry
    Congratulations to Kerry, Stephen, Sindu,and Morgan!!! All four began research in the lab in Spring/Summer 2020 (start of COVID pandemic) and worked on microwave atom chip-related projects for their senior theses.

    From Left: Sindu Shanmugadas, Morgan Logsdon, Stephen Rosene, and Kerry Wang.

  • Spring 2022: Award season !!
    ●  Dr. Drew Rotunno won W&M's Distinguished Dissertation Award in the Natural and Computational Sciences for the 2021-22 academic year, i.e. the top PhD Thesis in STEM fields.
    University announcement

    ●  William Miyahira won a Graduate Research Fellowship from the Virginia Space Grant Consortium (VSGC) to work on microwave traps and atom interferometry.

    ●  Cate Sturner won the Frank Hohl Memorial Physics Award for her undergraduate research on microwave atom chip development.

    Cate Sturner receiving the Hohl Award from Dept. Chair, Prof. Jeff Nelson.

  • November 2021: FiO+LS Conference, Undergraduate Symposium
    Morgan Logsdon, Sindu Shanmugadas, and Cate Sturner presented their research on coax-to-coplanar waveguide-to-microstrip transitions for microwave atom chip designs (on-line due to COVID-19 pandemic).

  • August 2021: Microwave atom chip design paper is published !
    William Miyahira, Drew Rotunno, and Shuangli Du's theory paper on microwave atom chip design considerations, AC Zeeman trap theory, and supporting microwave simulations is published in MDPI Atoms [PDF].

  • July 2021 News: Dr. ShuangLi Du graduates
    Congratulations to Dr. ShuangLi Du!!! ShuangLi successfully defended his Ph.D. research and thesis, AC and DC Zeeman interferometric sensing with ultracold trapped atoms on a chip, on July 21, 2021. Dr. Du is a Lead Software Engineer at Cadence Design Systems in San Jose, CA.

    Dr. ShuangLi Du after defending his PhD thesis.

  • June 2021 News: Dr. Andrew Rotunno graduates
    Congratulations to Dr. Andrew Rotunno!!! Drew successfully defended his Ph.D. research and thesis, Radiofrequency AC Zeeman Trapping for Neutral Atoms, on June 21, 2021. Dr. Rotunno is a Postdoctoral Researcher at NIST Boulder working on RF sensing with Rydberg atoms in the Holloway group and the Communications Technology Lab.

    Left: Dr. Rotunno's PhD defense. Right: (from left) W. Miyahira, Prof. S. Aubin, Dr. A. Rotunno, D. Marrs, and C. Sturner.

  • Summer 2021 News
    Cate Sturner is working on microwave atom chip design simulations, including various coax-to-microstrip transition designs, as well as a microwave frequency and phase monitoring station (work supported by NSF REU).
    David Marrs (VMEC Scholar from VCU) is working on microwave simulations of coplanar waveguide-to-microstrip transitions.

  • DAMOP 2021 conference -- on-line
    Drew Rotunno and William Miyahira presented their research on AC Zeeman trapping (1st observation) and microwave atom chip design, respectively, at the DAMOP atomic physics conference (on-line due to COVID-19 pandemic).

  • August 2020: AC skin effect paper is published !
    Anne Blackwell and Drew Rotunno's paper on the experimental observation of the ac skin effect is published in the American Journal of Physics [PDF].

  • Summer 2020 News
    William Miyahira begins PhD work with the group on optical trapping, AC Zeeman physics, microwave atom chip design, and atom interferometry.
    Sindu Shanmugadas is working on microwave simulation project to model coupling between parallel microstrip transmission lines (supported by DTRA -- remote work due to COVID-19 pandemic).

  • June 2020: DAMOP conference -- on-line
    Shuangli Du and Drew Rotunno presented their research on atom interferometry and AC Zeeman physics, respectively, at the DAMOP atomic physics conference (on-line due to COVID-19 pandemic).

  • Spring 2020 News
    Natalia Tene Sandoval begins PhD work on microwave atom chip development, atom interferometry, and laser cooling and trapping.

  • Summer 2019 News
    Dr. Doug Beringer begins working with the group on DTRA and NSF projects to design, simulate, and micro-fabricate a microwave atom chip.
    Kami Sullivan just graduated from W&M and is assisting with thermal and mechanical engineering work on an external cavity diode laser project.
    Daniel Rodriguez is an undergraduate from George Mason University and is working in the lab as a VMEC Summer Scholar. He works on three projects: characterizing the performance of a repumper laser, setting up and testing out a dipole trap beam translator, and constructing a high power microwave amplifier system.

  • May 2019: DAMOP conference in Milwaukee
    Shuangli Du and Drew Rotunno presented their research on AC Zeeman physics at the DAMOP atomic physics conference in Milwaukee, WI.

  • Spring 2019: Dr. Andrew "AJ" Pyle graduates!
    Congratulations to Dr. Andrew J. Pyle! AJ successfully defended his Ph.D. research and thesis, Scattering a Bose-Einstein Condensate off a Modulated Barrier, on February 11, 2019. Dr. Pyle is a Staff Scientist/Engineer at ACENT Laboratories LLC.

    Dr. AJ Pyle after his PhD defense.

  • Summer 2018: Undergraduate summer researchers
    Joe Coffin is an undergraduate from George Mason University and is working in the lab as a VMEC Summer Scholar. He works on constructing and characterizing a direct digital synthesis (DDS) RF source that can conduct agile frequency sweeps in the 1-400 MHz range.
    Isuru Attanagoda (W&M) works on microwave simulations for designing a microwave atom chip. He is supported by an iDISPLA grant from ARL (Fort Belvoir, VA).

  • May 2018: DAMOP conference in Florida
    The group presented its research on AC Zeeman physics, potassium laser cooling and trapping, and scattering a BEC off a modulated barrier at the DAMOP atomic physics conference in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.

  • March-April 2018: Three papers published !
    ●  Charlie Fancher's PhD thesis work on the AC Zeeman force has been published in Physical Review A [PDF].
    ●  Dan Salmon and Perry Nerem's (Delos theory group) have published their experimental work demonstrating classical dynamical monodromy in Physical Review Letters [PDF].
    ●  The FrPNC collaboration has published its investigation of isotope shifts in francium on the 7s-8s 2-photon transition in Physical Review A [PDF].

  • Summer 2017: Undergraduate summer researchers
    Neil Jacob is a 2017 graduate of George Mason University and is working in the lab as a VMEC Summer Scholar. He works on constructing and characterizing a direct digital synthesis (DDS) RF source that can conduct agile frequency sweeps in the 1-400 MHz range.
    Ben Halkowski (W&M 2018) is developing an external cavity diode laser for spectroscopy of rubidium at 780 nm. He is supported by an iDISPLA grant from ARL (Fort Belvoir, VA).

  • Fall 2016: Dr. Charles Fancher graduates!
    Congratulations to Dr. Charles Fancher! Charlie successfully defended his Ph.D. thesis, AC Zeeman Force with Ultracold Atoms on November 21, 2016. Dr. Fancher is an NRC Postdoctoral Fellow at the Naval Research Lab (Washington, D.C.) in the group of Dr. Adam Black, where he works on the quantum optics of nano-fibers.

    From left: Drew Rotunno, A.J. Pyle, Dr. Austin Ziltz (PhD'15), Dr. Charles Fancher, Prof. Seth Aubin, Shuangli Du.

  • August 2016: 7s-8s 2-photon transition observed in francium
    The FrPNC collaboration successfully observed the 7s-8s 2-photon transition at 1013.5 nm in 208-211, 213Fr. This work is a first step towards eventually driving the parity-forbidden 1-photon transition at 506.8 nm.

  • June 2016: group attends DAMOP conference
    The group presented its research at the DAMOP atomic physics conference in Providence, RI.

  • April 2016: A.J. Pyle is awarded a VSGC Graduate Research Fellowship
    Congratulations to A.J. for winning a Graduate Research Fellowship from the Virginia Space Grant Consortium to support his work on quantum pumping.

  • March 2016: Charles Fancher wins award
    Congratulations to Charlie Fancher for winning the Northrop Grumman Corporation Award for Excellence in Scholarship in the Natural and Computational Sciences at this year's Graduate Research Symposium. Charlie's research focuses on measuring the AC Zeeman force in ultracold atoms due to microwave near-fields produced by an atom chip (more here).

    Charles Fancher receives a research award
    at the 2016 Graduate Research Symposium.

  • Fall 2015: Dr. Megan Ivory graduates!
    Congratulations to Dr. Megan Ivory! Megan successfully defended her Ph.D. thesis, Experimental Apparatus for Quantum Pumping with a Bose-Einstein Condensate on September 4, 2015. Dr. Ivory leads the Quantum Information Systems team at ColdQuanta, Inc. in Boulder, CO.

    Dr. Megan Ivory after the PhD defense.

  • April 2015: Dr. Austin Ziltz graduates! First Ph.D. of the Lab!
    Congratulations to Dr. Austin Ziltz! Austin successfully defended his Ph.D. thesis, Ultracold Rubidium and Potassium System for Atom Chip-based Microwave and RF Potentials, on April 15, 2015. Dr. Ziltz works at Laser & Plasma Technologies in Hampton, VA, developing novel infrared imaging and repair systems for paint-obscured corrosion on aircraft.

    Left: Dr. Austin Ziltz (right) and his advisor, Seth Aubin (left), after the defense. Right: Austin defends his thesis.

  • March 2015: Bigger and better BEC
    We have increased the size of our 87Rb Bose-Einstein condensates by a factor of three to obtain robust production of BECs of 4×104 atoms. The improvement was due primarily to greater laser power at 780 nm (leading to better laser-cooling) and an optimized RF evaporation trajectory with an efficiency of 3.7 (previously 2.7). This advance will assist sympathetic cooling of potassium isotopes with rubidium.

    Left: Absorption image of a 87Rb BEC with 4×104 atoms. The image is taken 12.75 ms after the BEC has been released from the atom chip trap. OD refers to optical depth. Right: Phase space density versus atom number over the course of RF evaporation in the chip trap. The diamond points represent quasi-pure BECs (condensate atom number is used in place of phase space density). The dashed green line shows the previous evaporation trajectory.

  • Spring semester 2015: A. J. Pyle awarded a Tropf Fellowship
    Graduate student A. J. Pyle was awarded the 2015 Cheryl Griffith Tropf Fellowship in Physics. The fellowship ensures a reduced teaching load and provides some funds for research and conference travel. A. J.'s research focuses primarily on investigating quantum pumping and transport using Bose-Einstein condensates. More information is available at this link.

    Bill Tropf (left) and A. J. Pyle (right).

  • December 2014, part 1: Francium transferred to the science chamber
    The FrPNC collaboration at the TRIUMF accelerator (Vancouver, Canada) has successfully transferred laser-cooled francium from an on-line magneto-optical trap (MOT) to a second MOT located 0.7 m below in a vacuum chamber (dubbed the "science chamber") where parity non-conservation measurements will take place.

    MOT of 211Fr in the science chamber after transfer.

  • December 2014, part 2: Dr. Tommy Byrd graduates
    Congratulations! Tommy Byrd (Delos group) successfully defended his theory research on classical and semiclassical aspects of ballistic quantum pumping on December 1. Tommy and the Aubin group have collaborated on a number of theory papers over the past three years. Tommy is headed to Purdue University to work in the Mugler group.

    Prof. John Delos (left) and Dr. Tommy Byrd (right).

  • December 2014, part 3: Microwave field simulation training
    The Aubin group spent a few a days undergoing training in how to do microwave electromagnetic field numerical simulations using the software FEKO (by EMSS and Altair Inc.) at the company's office in Hampton, VA.

    Seth Aubin (2nd on left), AJ Pyle (2nd on right), and Charles Fancher (right) learning to simulate microwave fields.

  • October 2014: Austin starts work at Laser Plasma Technologies
    Austin Ziltz starts work as a scientist at Laser Plasma Technologies (Hampton, VA) developing novel infrared imaging and repair systems for paint-obscured corrosion on aircraft.

  • September 2014: Seth wins a Fulbright Scholar award
    The Fulbright award will support Seth Aubin's research on the FrPNC experiment at the TRIUMF particle accelerator in Vancouver, Canada, during summers 2015 and 2016. A W&M news brief on the award can be found here.

    Seth Aubin visiting the Canadian parliament in Ottawa with the Fulbright Canada program.

  • Summer 2014: Group attends ICAP
    The group presents its research at the International Conference on Atomic Physics in Washington, D.C. and attends its associated summer school at W&M.

  • May 2014: Elana and Harrison graduate
    Congratulations! Elana Urbach will enter the PhD program at Harvard University in Fall 2014, and Harrison Cantor-Cooke will start work in June 2014 at Tesla Motors as a firmware engineer.

    From left to right: Seth Aubin, Harrison Cantor-Cooke, and Elana Urbach.

  • February 2014: Elana receives the Harrison Award
    Elana Urbach shares the Harrison Award for Excellence in Physics with Tim Milbourne. The prize is awarded to the senior(s) with the highest demonstrated achievement in physics. Congratulations!

    From left to right: Tim Milbourne, David Armstrong (Chair), and Elana Urbach.

  • January 2014, part 1: Megan starts work at ColdQuanta
    Megan Ivory starts work as a scientist at ColdQuanta (Boulder, CO) developing laser cooling and trapping systems and techniques.

  • January 2014, part 2: Lab is featured in the Daily Press
    The Hampton Road daily newspaper the Daily Press runs a front page story on January 15, 2014 about the lab's ultracold atom research.

    From left to right: Elana Urbach, A.J. Pyle, Charlie Fancher, and Austin Ziltz.

  • December 2013: Charlie receives the Rolf G. Winter Teaching Award
    Congratulations! Charles Fancher shares the Rolf G. Winter Award for excellence in teaching with fellow graduate student Peter Rosenberg.

    Charles Fancher receives the Rolf G. Winter Teaching Award from David Armstrong (Chair).

  • November 2013: SESAPS 2013 conference
    Charlie Fancher and Austin Ziltz win travel awards and give talks on their research (dipole trapping for magnetometry and atom chip trapping, respectively) at the SESAPS 2013 conference in Bowling Green, KY.

  • October 2013: Frontiers in Optics 2013 conference
    Isabelle Lee, Anuraag Sensharma, and Elana Urbach present posters on their research (Feshbach resonance theory, dark-ground imaging, and Feshbach resonance experiment, respectively) at the Frontiers in Optics 2013 conference in Orlando, FL.

  • Summer/Spring 2013: Dipole trapping
    We have successfully installed 1064 nm optical dipole traps near our atom chip and in our MOT cell.

    Left: Fluorescence image of 87Rb in the 6 W MOT cell dipole trap.
    Right: Absorption image of 87Rb in the 1 W atom chip dipole trap.

  • June 2013: Conferences
    Megan Ivory wins travel awards to give a talk at DAMOP 2013 in Quebec City, Canada, and a poster at CLEO/QELS 2013 in San Jose, CA, on her quantum pumping research.

  • Spring 2013: Fellowships and Scholarships
    Austin Ziltz and Charlie Fancher are awarded Virginia Space Grant Consortium (VSGC) Graduate Research Fellowships for 2013-14.

    Elana Urbach wins a VSGC Undergraduate Research Scholarship for 2013-14 and the Society of Physics Students (SPS) Top Leadership Scholarship for 2013.

  • September 2012: Bose-Einstein Condensation !!!
    We have achieved Bose-Einstein condensation in an ultracold gas of 87Rb trapped on an atom chip . We observe a transition temperature of Tc~ 460 nK with quasi-pure condensates of up to 3x104 atoms.

    Some absorption images of our first 87Rb BECs in the |F=2, mF=+2> hyperfine ground state.
    Left: Image showing the inverted aspect ratio of the BEC after a time-of-flight of 12 ms.
    Right: Movie at 8 ms time-of-flight showing the transition of a thermal gas into a BEC.

    [We gratefully aknowledge Jeffress Memorial Trust and Virginia Space Grant Consortium for supporting this work in part,
    and the Thywissen group (U. of Toronto) for providing the atom chip.]

    ... Also,
    Francium trapped at TRIUMF !!!
    The FrPNC collaboration (see also this link at U. of Maryland) has successfully trapped 207Fr, 209Fr, and 221Fr isotopes in an on-line magneto-optical trap (MOT) at the ISAC facility of the TRIUMF accelerator (Vancouver, Canada). For more information please follow this link.

    Fluorescence images of a 209Fr MOT at TRIUMF as seen by two separate CCD cameras.

    The FrPNC collaboration is supported by DOE and NSF (USA), NSERC, NRC, and TRIUMF (Canada), and CONACYT (Mexico).

  • June 2012: Atoms loaded onto the atom chip
    We have successfully loaded 87Rb atoms into the Z-wire trap of the atom chip.

    Absorption (left) and fluorescence (right) images of 87Rb in the Z-wire trap of the atom chip.
    The line of noise at the top of the absorption image (left) is the chip.

  • May 2012
    Brian Chase, Lauren White, and Sandro Gvakharia graduate after completing their senior theses in the lab. Congratulations!

    Josh Holt (Biology major) graduates after completing his senior research on memristors. Congratulations!

    Brian Chase wins the Undergraduate Research Award for his work on rebuilding the 1064 nm 10 W dipole trap laser (Spectra-Physics 3800, on long term loan from the Sukenik group at ODU) and photo-association spectroscopy in a 87Rb MOT.

    Brian Chase accepts his award from Prof. David Amrstrong, Chair of Physics.

  • June 2011
    Front cover of Ideation
    The lab is featured in Ideation, the W&M campus research magazine. The article can be found here.

  • April 2011
    Laser shutters paper is published in RSI
    The laser shutter paper, in collaboration with the group of Eduardo Gomez at Universidad Autonoma de San Luis Potosi (Mexico), is published as Rev. Sci. Instrum. 82, 046102 (2011).

    Megan wins a VSGC Graduate Research Fellowship to support her research on an atom chip-based fermion atomic clock.

    Josh Holt wins a VSGC Undergraduate Research Scholarship to support his independent research on microfabrication of memristors.

  • January 10-12, 2011: Informal Workshop on Quantum Pumping
    Prof. Kunal Das (Kutztown University) and Prof. Kevin Mitchell (UC Merced) visit Aubin and Delos groups for an informal workshop on classical and quantum aspects of quantum pumping.

    From left to right: Seth Aubin, Tommy Byrd, Kunal Das, John Delos,
    Megan Ivory, Kevin Mitchell, and Hoshik Lee.

  • Fall 2010 successes
    We have installed the atom chip in vacuum and succesfully laser cooled 39K and magnetically trapped 87Rb.

    Left: K-Rb apparatus with atom chip (top right). Center: 39K MOT. Right:  Magnetically trapped 87Rb atoms.

    Austin wins the Rolf G. Winter Award for excellence in teaching for his work as the teaching assistant in PHYS 252: Introduction to Analog Electronics and PHS 351: Introduction to Digital Electronics over the past 3 years.

    Austin Ziltz (left) receiving the Rolf G. Winter Award
    from Prof. Keith Griffioen, Physics Dept. Chair (right).

  • Summer 2010: REU summer of apparatus construction
    John Hagee (Old Dominion U.), Sandra Schmidt (Arizona State U.), and Andrew Pyle (Kutztown U.) join us for the summer to construct an agile DDS RF source, a tapered amplifier for 767 nm, and a triggerable current driver for 10x 405 nm LEDs, respectively.

    Sandi, Seth, AJ, and John (summer 2010).

  • May 2010: Francesca and Brian graduate !
    Francesca Fornasini and Brian Richards finish their senior theses and graduate. Francesca is headed to the Physics Ph.D. program at UC Berkeley, and Brian will pursue a Ph.D. in Physics at the U. of Virginia.

  • April 2010: Move into new lab space in the new research wing of Small Hall.
    The lab moves into bigger, better research space with improved temperature and humidity control.


  • September 2009: Quantum pumping paper is published in PRL.
    The quantum pumping paper, in collaboration with Kunal Das at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, is published as Phys. Rev. Lett. 103, 123007 (2009).

  • August 2009: Jim Field and Austin Ziltz join the group as Ph.D. students.
    Jim and Austin join the group to work on the ultra-cold fermion experiment.

  • June 17, 2009: 87Rb MOT
    After a little bit of coaxing, we got our first MOT with a temperature of 100-200 microK. The 87Rb atoms are trapped and cooled by a 3-beam MOT, which we are in the process of converting to a 6-beam MOT with a 1 W tapered amplifier.

  • May 2009: Justin and Trevor graduate !
    Trevor Harrison and Justin Winkler complete their senior theses and graduate. Justin is headed to the Physics Ph.D. program at the University of Rochester, and Trevor moves to Breckenridge, CO  (where the snowboarding is apparently better than in Williamsburg, VA).

  • April 2009: Megan Ivory joins the group as a Ph.D. student.
    Megan joins the ultra-cold fermion experiment.

  • Summer 2008: Atom chip 
    We received an atom chip from the Thywissen group (Dept. of Physics, University of Toronto) -- Thank you Joseph Thywissen and Dylan Jervis! The chip has U and Z wire traps, as well as additional wires for generating adiabatic RF potentials. The chip is shown below:

  • May 2008: Brian graduates ! 
    Brian DeSalvo succesfully defended his honors senior thesis entitled "Mode-Locked Diode Laser for Precision Optical Frequency Measurements". Brian is the first student to graduate from the lab. He is continuing his research interests in the Physics Ph.D. program at Rice University.

  • November 2007: Lab move-in
    After a long wait, the Ultra-Cold AMO Lab is ready to be used. We have installed acoustical isolation, an overhead Unistrut frame, shelving, and a lock. We have finally begun research in the new lab
    Here are some pictures of the room 15 lab:


  • August 2007: Lab renovations mostly completed
    After a long construction period, the Ultra-Cold AMO Lab renovation is finally complete. The primary additions to the room were a wall, water plumbing, and a dedicated HVAC unit for temperature and humidity stabilization.
    Here are some pictures of the recently completed room 15 lab:


  • February 2007: Aiyana Garcia joins the lab
    Aiyana Garcia starts working in the Ultra-Cold AMO Lab as the first Ph.D. graduate student researcher.

  • January 2007: Arrival at William & Mary
    The Ultra-Cold AMO Lab at William & Mary begins operation. The lab uses basement room B101, shown below, and will move into basement room 15 after renovations are completed.

    Here are pictures of room 15, the future lab space:


Web page updated:  May 23, 2023.