History and Overview
JILA was founded in 1962 as a joint institute of the University of Colorado and NIST. Originally, the name stood for the Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics. In 1994, members voted to keep the name but discontinue use of the meaning as it did not adequately describe the scope of science conducted at the institute. JILA serves as a research platform for some of the top physicists and scientific researchers in the world, including several Nobel Laureates. Located on the CU campus, the institute includes graduate and postgraduate students, faculty, and alumni who work in some of the most challenging and fundamental areas recognized by science.
Research at the facility falls into seven categories: astrophysics, atomic and molecular physics, biophysics, chemical physics, nanoscience, optical physics, and precision measurement. Scientists at JILA's Center for Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics, funded by the National Science Foundation, investigate how fundamental physical principles determine the structure and behavior of light and matter. They use precision optical instruments, many of which are designed and built at JILA, to probe atoms and molecules and study the flow of energy through molecular systems.
JILA’s partnerships extend beyond academia, with grants from NSF, NASA, DOE, ONR, DARPA, and others. In addition, the institute fosters relations with many local and national companies through subcontracting. Several firms have been formed as spinoffs from JILA research, including Micro G, Winters Electro Optics, Cold Quanta, AlphaSniffer, Vescent Photonics, and Precision Photonics.