Travis L Nicholson


Assistant Professor of Physics

Travis L Nicholson Profile Photo
Travis L Nicholson Profile Photo

Research Interests

My research focuses on quantum science experiments with ultracold gases of neutral atoms. My team has pioneered ultracold physics with Main Group III (Group 13) atoms. We were the first to laser cool a Group III atom to near absolute zero, as well as the first to prepare these atoms in pure quantum states and optically trap them. I occasionally do theoretical physics research, and some of my work includes proposals for novel lasers and new quantum sensor designs. 


I am an experimental physicist that works on quantum science with ultracold atoms. I earned my PhD in 2015 from the University of Colorado, and my graduate research was performed at JILA in the group of Jun Ye. There I realized the most accurate atomic clock, which neither gains nor loses a second in 15 billion years. After that I did a postdoc at MIT, studying quantum nonlinear optics with ultracold rubidium. In 2017, I took a position as assistant professor of physics at the National University of Singapore and principal investigator at the Centre for Quantum Technologies. There I began my research in indium ultracold gases. In 2024 I was recruited to Duke as an assistant professor of physics with a joint appointment in ECE. I am also a principal investigator at the Duke Quantum Center.


  • M.S. University of Colorado, Boulder, 2011
  • Ph.D. University of Colorado, Boulder, 2015


  • Assistant Professor of Physics
  • Assistant Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Member of the Duke Quantum Center