(Wineland, David J - 2012) -- Nobel Prize-Physics uri icon



  • Isolated from their surroundings, particles such as atoms, electrons, and photons exhibit bizarre properties—such as being in two places at once—that classical physics cannot explain. Quantum physics was conceived to provide theoretical explanations of these properties, but experimental validation of quantum theory was believed to be impossible because these particles lose their quantum properties when they are observed or when they interact with other particles. Dr. Wineland received the Nobel Prize (along with Serge Haroche) for demonstrating that the seemingly impossible was indeed possible. By trapping electrically charged atoms and controlling and measuring them with light, Dr. Wineland was able to preserve while observing their quantum properties. This breakthrough in the field of quantum optics has led to the development of highly precise clocks that tell time with more than a hundred times greater precision than the cesium clocks that are used today. Perhaps more significant, it holds the promise of enabling the creation of super-fast computers that will transform everyday life in the future.
    Dr. Wineland’s distinguished career has led to many other accolades, including the National Medal of Science, the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Physics, and the American Physical Society’s Arthur L. Schawlow Prize in Laser Science. In 2013 he was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. (See related story on page 26.)

year awarded

  • 2012