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2012 Nobel Prize in Physics - Dave Wineland

David Wineland leans over a table of lasers to adjust a laser beam
Credit: ©Geoffrey Wheeler

NIST physicist David Wineland adjusts an ultraviolet laser beam used to manipulate ions in a high-vacuum apparatus containing an "ion trap." These devices have been used to demonstrate the basic operations required for a quantum computer. Such computers, by relying on quantum mechanics rather than transistors to perform calculations or store information, could someday solve problems in seconds that would take months on today's best supercomputers. 

The Nobel citation notes that Wineland and Haroche's methods have enabled science to take "the very first steps towards building a new type of super fast computer based on quantum physics. Perhaps the quantum computer will change our everyday lives in this century in the same radical way as the classical computer did in the last century. The research has also led to the construction of extremely precise clocks that could become the future basis for a new standard of time, with more than hundred-fold greater precision than present-day cesium clocks."

Selected NIST press releases on Wineland's research:

NIST and the Nobel segment on Dave Wineland >>

Created August 31, 2017, Updated March 9, 2018