In the early 1980s the founders of the Institute of Atomic and Molecular Sciences (IAMS) had the vision to see the great potential of advanced instruments such as high precision lasers and synchrotron radiation light sources together with pulsed molecular beams, ionization techniques, and ultrahigh vacuum surface techniques in elucidating the structures of atoms and molecules and the dynamics and energetics of the interaction among atoms and molecules. They proposed to establish an Institute to complement the research at the Institutes of Physics and Chemistry in the Academia Sinica. A preparatory office was initiated in 1982. In 1995 the Institute of Atomic and Molecular Sciences was inaugurated as a full-fledged Institute in the Academia Sinica.
Today, research projects at the IAMS cover topics ranging from the spectroscopy and dynamics of molecules to the fabrication and analysis of advanced materials to the study of biophysics and the development of analytical tools for biomolecules. At present the Institute has four research groups: (1) Advanced Materials and Surface Science, (2) Atomic Physics and Optical Science, (3) Biophysics and Bio-analytical Technology, and (4) Chemical Dynamics and Spectroscopy.