Brynle Barrett

Assistant Professor



I.U.C. Physics/Admin 212


Areas of research

My research in experimental atomic and optical physics focusses on realizing high-precision quantum sensors with ultra-cold matter. I'm fascinated with harnessing the wave nature of atoms to construct state-of-the-art quantum accelerometers and gyroscopes. My primary research interests include light-matter interactions, laser-cooling of atoms and molecules, precision measurements of fundamental constants, and matter-wave interferometry.

Due to their mass and internal electronic structure, atoms are extremely sensitive to gravitational and electro-magnetic fields. They interact strongly with light at specific frequencies, they can be trapped in optical or magnetic fields, and they can be cooled to nano-Kelvin temperatures (only a billionth of a degree above absolute zero!). At such low temperatures, the wave-like behavior of these quantum particles is enhanced—enabling researchers to construct extremely sensitive matter-wave interferometers, where the roles of matter and light are reversed compared to optical interferometers. These devices form the backbone of many modern instruments such as atomic clocks, absolute gravimeters, and magnetic gradiometers. Applications for these versatile sensors include monitoring volcanic activity, prospecting for natural resources, precise timekeeping for communication, autonomous inertial navigation, and space science.