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1997 Nobel Prize in Physics - Bill Phillips

Bill Phillips in 1997

Bill Phillips on the day in 1997 when he learned he would be sharing that year's Nobel Prize in physics.

Credit: © Robert Rathe

Their work combined to create some of the most important technologies of modern atomic physics, which thousands of researchers worldwide employ today for a wide variety of applications. 

Phillips began his experiments with laser trapping and cooling shortly after he arrived in 1978 at the National Bureau of Standards (the agency that became NIST), with the intent of creating a more accurate atomic clock. Several of his innovations in the following years became landmarks in the field. These included a device using a laser along with a magnetic field to decelerate and cool an atomic beam (the “Zeeman slower”); demonstrating the first device that trapped electrically neutral atoms (a magnetic trap); and measuring a temperature far below that predicted by the accepted theory of laser cooling at the time (known as sub-Doppler cooling).

NIST and the Nobel segment on Bill Phillips >>

Created August 31, 2017