Photonics and Atomic, Molecular & Optical Physics

A first look at laser-cooled ion trapping

Eight individual Ytterbium ions, laser-cooled to near absolute zero temperature, are levitating in ultra-high vacuum and imaged on a CCD camera.


Understanding the nature of light and matter, and interactions between them, is at the forefront of modern science and technology. Controlling properties of light with matter and vice versa are major themes of research in photonics and Atomic, Molecular, and Optical (AMO) physics. Advancements in AMO physics are responsible for fundamental discoveries, such as new quantum phases of matter, as well as technical inventions improving our lives, such as high intensity lasers revolutionizing eye surgeries and the atomic clocks used on GPS satellites.

Waterloo scientists researching on light are engaged in understanding its fundamental properties and technical applications, ranging from single-photon experiments to the creation of intense laser pulses, with pioneering applications in biomedical fields and quantum information processing. Researchers working with atomic and molecular systems are creating synthetic quantum matter made of laser-cooled atoms, for gaining insights into the vastly complicated world of many-particle quantum physics and potential applications in quantum computing.