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NIST's Charles Clark Named Co-Director of the Joint Quantum Institute

Headshot of Charles Clark

Charles Clark

Credit: NIST

Physicist Charles Clark of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has been named a co-director of the Joint Quantum Institute (JQI), a research collaboration that includes NIST and the University of Maryland. Clark joins UM's Steve Rolston in leading JQI. He succeeds Carl Williams, who recently completed a five-year term as the founding NIST co-director.

"JQI owes its spectacular success to Carl Williams as much as to anyone else," said Clark. "Foundation of joint institutes between federal agencies and research universities always seems like a good idea, but there are immense practical difficulties in settling the details. We all owe much to Carl for his sustained hard work in making JQI possible, sealing the deal within complex and shifting multi-institutional constraints."

The JQI brings together scientists who study physical systems that obey the counterintuitive rules of quantum physics, which, for example, cause atomic and subatomic objects such as electrons to behave as either particles or waves depending on how they are viewed. Typical research areas at JQI include the fundamental physics of superconductors that enable the flow of electrons without resistance; ultracold atomic gases that can simulate the behavior of more complex quantum systems that are impossible to model with today's supercomputers; and quantum information, which aims to use the unique properties of quantum systems for more powerful and secure computation and communication than can be achieved with the realm of classical physics.

Clark was chief of the NIST Electron and Optical Physics Division for 20 years before being appointed a NIST Fellow in 2010, thereby joining the ranks of NIST and JQI Fellows Paul Lett, Paul Julienne and Nobel Laureate Bill Phillips. His research activities are focused on theoretical atomic, molecular and optical physics. Among his signal accomplishments to date are the co-development of the Digital Library of Mathematical Functions (, accompanied by the Cambridge University Press publication of "The NIST Handbook of Mathematical Functions" in 2010, and supervising five University of Maryland Ph.D. theses while serving as a full-time employee of NIST. He is actively engaged in spreading physics research news through social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

More information on JQI is available at Additional details of Clark's career and publications are at

Released May 10, 2011, Updated January 20, 2023