Deborah S. Jin

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Deborah S. Jin
Deborah Jin.jpg
Born(1968-11-15)November 15, 1968
DiedSeptember 15, 2016(2016-09-15) (aged 47)
Alma materPrinceton University (A.B.)
University of Chicago (Ph.D.)
Known forfermionic condensate
AwardsMacArthur Fellowship (2003)
Benjamin Franklin Medal (2008)
Isaac Newton Medal (2014)
Scientific career
InstitutionsNational Institute of Standards and Technology;
University of Colorado at Boulder
ThesisExperimental study of the phase diagrams of heavy fermion superconductors with multiple transitions (1995)
Doctoral advisorThomas F. Rosenbaum
WebsiteJin Group at Colorado

Deborah Shiu-lan Jin (November 15, 1968 – September 15, 2016) was an American physicist and fellow with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST); Professor Adjunct, Department of Physics at the University of Colorado; and a fellow of the JILA, a NIST joint laboratory with the University of Colorado.[1][2]

She was considered a pioneer in polar molecular quantum chemistry.[3][4] From 1995 to 1997 she worked with Eric Cornell and Carl Wieman at JILA, where she was involved in some of the earliest studies of dilute gas Bose-Einstein condensates.[5] In 2003, Dr. Jin's team at JILA made the first fermionic condensate, a new form of matter.[6] She used magnetic traps and lasers to cool fermionic atomic gases to less than 100 billionths of a degree above zero, successfully demonstrating quantum degeneracy and the formation of a molecular Bose-Einstein condensate.[7][8] Jin was frequently mentioned as a strong candidate for the Nobel Prize in Physics.[9][10]

Early life[edit]

Jin was born in Santa Clara County, California,[11] Jin was one of three children, and grew up in Indian Harbour Beach, Florida.[12] Her father was a physicist and her mother a physicist working as an engineer.[12]


Jin studied physics at Princeton University, graduating with an A.B. in 1990 and received her Ph.D. at the University of Chicago in 1995 under Thomas Felix Rosenbaum.[5][13]

Major Scientific Contributions[edit]

In 1995, Jin earned her PhD from University of Chicago with the thesis title "Experimental Study of Phase Diagrams of Heavy Fermion Superconductors with Multiple Transitions".[14]

In 1997, Jin formed a group at JILA, the Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics in Boulder, Colorado. Within two years, she developed the ability to create the first quantum degenerate gas of fermionic atoms. The work was motivated by earlier studies of Bose-Einstein condensates and the ability to cool a dilute gas of atoms to 1 μK. The weak interactions between particles in a Bose-Einstein Condensate led to interesting physics. It was theorized that fermionic atoms would form an analogous state at low enough temperatures, with fermions pairing up in a phenomenon similar to the creation of Cooper pairs in superconducting materials.[15]

The work was complicated by the fact that, unlike bosons, fermions cannot occupy the same place at the same time and are therefore limited with regard to cooling mechanisms. To circumvent this issue, Jin and her team cooled potassium-40 atoms in two different magnetic sublevels. This enabled atoms in different sublevels to collide with each other, despite the fact that atoms of the same sublevel could not collide. The theorized 'quantum degeneracy' occurred at around 300 nK.[16]

In 2003, Jin and her team were the first to condense pairs of fermionic atoms. They directly observed a molecular Bose-Einstein condensate created solely by adjusting the interaction strength in an ultracold Fermi gas of atoms. She was able to observe transitions of the gas between a Bardeen-Cooper-Schrieffer (BCS) state and Bose-Einstein Condensate (BEC) state.[17]

Jin continued to advance the frontiers of ultracold science in 2008 when she and her colleague, Jun Ye, managed to cool polar molecules that possess a large electric dipole moment to ultracold temperatures. Rather than directly cool polar molecules, they created a gas of ultracold atoms and then transformed them into dipolar molecules in a coherent way. This work led to novel insights regarding the chemical reactions near absolute zero. They were able to observe and control potassium-rubidium (KRb) molecules in the lowest energy state (ground state). They were even able to observe molecules colliding and breaking and forming chemical bonds.[18] Jin's husband, John Bohn, who specialized in the theory of ultracold atomic collisions, collaborated with her on this work.


Jin mentored two dozen doctoral students, two dozen undergraduates and two dozen postdoctoral fellows. Her mentorship made a lasting impact on those who worked with her.[19]

Honors and awards[edit]

Jin was an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences (2005)[4] and Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2007).[20][21]

Jin won a number of prestigious awards, including:

After her passing, the American Physical Society renamed its prestigious DAMOP graduate student prize after Deborah Jin to acknowledge her impact in the field of atomic, molecular, and optical physics.[28]

Personal life[edit]

Jin married John Bohn, and had a daughter, Jaclyn Bohn.[12] Jin died of cancer on September 15, 2016 in Boulder, Colorado.[12][29]


  1. ^ a b "Deborah S. Jin". JILA, University of Colorado. Retrieved 3 December 2015.
  2. ^ "Interview with Deborah S. Jin". Annenberg Learner. Annenberg Foundation. Retrieved 3 December 2015.
  3. ^ B DeMarco, J Bohn, and E Cornell (2016) "Deborah S. Jin", Nature 538(7625), 318.
  4. ^ a b c Ost, Laura. "JILA/NIST Fellow Deborah Jin to Receive 2014 Comstock Prize in Physics". NIST Tech Beat. Retrieved January 29, 2014.
  5. ^ a b c "2002 Maria Goeppert Mayer Award Recipient Deborah S. Jin". American Physical Society. Retrieved 3 December 2015.
  6. ^ "A New Form of Matter: II, NASA-supported researchers have discovered a weird new phase of matter called fermionic condensates". Science News. Nasa Science. February 12, 2004.
  7. ^ a b Galvin, Molly (January 16, 2014). "Academy Honors 15 for Major Contributions to Science". News from the National Academy of Sciences. National Academy of Sciences. Archived from the original on 8 December 2015. Retrieved 3 December 2015.
  8. ^ Regal, C. A.; Greiner, M.; Jin, D. S. (28 January 2004). "Observation of Resonance Condensation of Fermionic Atom Pairs". Physical Review Letters. 92 (4): 040403. arXiv:cond-mat/0401554. Bibcode:2004PhRvL..92d0403R. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.92.040403. PMID 14995356. Retrieved 3 December 2015.
  9. ^ Chang, Kenneth (2016-09-21). "Deborah S. Jin Dies at 47; Physicist Studied Matter in Extreme Cold". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-06-13.
  10. ^ Orzel, Chad. "Predicting The Nobel Prize In Physics". Forbes. Retrieved 2017-06-13.
  11. ^ "California Birth Index, 1905-1995". FamilySearch. Retrieved September 19, 2016.
  12. ^ a b c d Weil, Martin. "Deborah Jin, government physicist who won MacArthur 'genius' grant, dies at 47". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2016-09-22.
  13. ^ Jin, Deborah Shiu-lan (1995). Experimental study of the phase diagrams of heavy fermion superconductors with multiple transitions (Ph.D.). The University of Chicago. OCLC 833462117 – via ProQuest. (Subscription required (help)).
  14. ^ Jin, Deborah Shiu-Lan (1995). "Experimental Study of the Phase Diagrams of Heavy Fermion Superconductors with Multiple Transitions". Bibcode:1995PhDT........27J.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  15. ^ DeMarco, B.; Jin, D. S. (1 December 1998). "Exploring a quantum degenerate gas of fermionic atoms". Physical Review A. 58 (6): R4267–R4270. arXiv:cond-mat/9807406. Bibcode:1998PhRvA..58.4267D. doi:10.1103/PhysRevA.58.R4267 – via APS.
  16. ^ "Fermion gas achieves quantum degeneracy". Physics World. 12 (10): 5. 5 April 1999. doi:10.1088/2058-7058/12/10/2 – via Institute of Physics.
  17. ^ Greiner, Markus; Regal, Cindy A.; Jin, Deborah S. "Emergence of a molecular Bose–Einstein condensate from a Fermi gas". Nature. 426 (6966): 537–540. Bibcode:2003Natur.426..537G. doi:10.1038/nature02199.
  18. ^ "Ultracold Molecules - Ye Group".
  19. ^ Ni, Kang-Kuen; Greiner, Markus; Ospelkaus, Silke (31 January 2017). "Deborah S. Jin 1968–2016: Trailblazer of ultracold science". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 114 (5): 791–792. doi:10.1073/pnas.1619292114. PMID 28039435 – via
  20. ^ "Professor Deborah S. Jin". American Academy of Arts & Sciences. Retrieved 3 December 2015.
  21. ^ "2007 Class of Fellows and Foreign Honorary Members by Class and Section" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 3 December 2015.
  22. ^ "MacArthur Fellows / Meet the Class of 2003 Deborah Jin". MacArthur Foundation. Retrieved 3 December 2015.
  23. ^ Holloway, Marguerite (2004). "Superhot among the Ultracool". Scientific American (September). Retrieved 3 December 2015.
  24. ^ "Deborah Jin". The Franklin Institute. Retrieved 2 December 2015.
  25. ^ Davidowitz, Suzie (October 22, 2012). "L'OREAL-UNESCO for Women in Science Names Professor Deborah Jin 2013 Laureate for North America". Market Wired. Retrieved 3 December 2015.
  26. ^ "Five exceptional women scientists receive L'OREAL-UNESCO Awards". News Africa. 8 April 2013. Archived from the original on 7 September 2016. Retrieved 3 December 2015.
  27. ^ "Institute of Physics announces 2014 award winners". Institute of Physics. Retrieved 4 July 2014.
  28. ^ "Deborah Jin's Legacy Honored by DAMOP". Retrieved 2017-06-13.
  29. ^ "Deborah Jin Dies at 47". JILA. Retrieved 19 September 2016.

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