Kristian Helmerson

Kristian Helmerson

Professor in Physics

BSc, Physics, University of Washington (1984)
PhD (Physics), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1991)
Phone +61 (3) 9905 1413 FAX +61 (3) 9905 3637




My research interests are in the physics and application of ultracold atomic gases and the application of optical techniques to address problems in biophysics and biotechnology. A common thread in my research is the use of lasers and, in particular, the optical forces that can be generated by light. Current studies with ultracold atomic gases include superfluidity in the presence of disorder and/or reduced dimensionality, quantum turbulence, and the physics of two-dimensional electron gases simulated by atoms in an optical lattice. Current experiments in biophysics include the development of techniques for isolating and studying single biomolecules, the behaviour of biomolecules in confined geometries and directed self-assembly of nanoscale objects from biomembranes.

PhD and honours positions available

Projects are available for students interested in either experimental or theoretical work. Projects can be tailored to include a mix of theory and experiment, and are available at honours and PhD level.


P. Cladé, C. Ryu, A. Ramanathan, K. Helmerson and W. D. Phillips, “Observations of a 2D Bose-gas: from thermal to quasi-condensate to superfluid,” Phys. Rev. Lett. 102, 170401 (2009).

C. Ryu, M. F. Anderson, P. Cladé, V. Natarajan, K. Helmerson and W. D. Phillips, “Observation of persistent flow of a Bose-Einstein condensate in a toroidal trap,” Phys. Rev. Lett. 99, 260401 (2007).

M. F. Andersen, C. Ryu, P. Cladé, V. Natarajan, A. Vaziri, K. Helmerson and W. D. Phillips, “Quantized rotation of atoms from photons with orbital angular momentum,” Phys. Rev. Lett. 97, 170406 (2006).

J. Tang, A. M. Jofre, G. M. Lowman, R. B. Kishore, J. E. Reiner, M. E. Greene, G. M. Lowman, J. S. Denker, C. C. C. Willis, K. Helmerson and L. S. Goldner, “Generation and mixing of subfemtoliter aqueous droplets on demand,” Analytical Chem. 81, 8041 (2009).

J. E. Reiner, A. M. Crawford, R. B. Kishore, Lori. S. Goldner, M. K. Gilson and K. Helmerson, “Optically trapped aqueous droplets for single molecule studies,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 89, 013904 (2006).

J. E. Reiner, J. M. Wells, R. B. Kishore, C. Pfefferkorn, and K. Helmerson, “Stable and robust polymer nanotubes stretched from polymersomes,” Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 103, 1173-1177 (2006).