The National Science Foundation has announced that Eric A. Cornell, a physicist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, is the 1997 winner of the Alan T. Waterman Award. Cornell is also an adjoint professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
The Waterman Award recognizes an outstanding young researcher in any field of science or engineering supported by the National Science Foundation. In addition to a medal, the awardee receives a grant of $500,000 over a three-year period for scientific research or advanced study in the mathematical, physical, medical, biological, engineering, social or other sciences at the institution of the recipient's choice. The award will be presented in ceremonies in Washington, D.C., on May 7.
Cornell, of Boulder, Colo., was recognized "for his leading role in the creation of Bose-Einstein condensation in a gas and for innovations in the manipulation, trapping and cooling of atoms that led to the realization of this new state of matter."
Bose-Einstein condensation was first created in the summer of 1995 in Cornell's lab at JILA, a joint program of the University of Colorado and NIST. The work was accomplished with CU professor Carl Wieman, postdoctoral researcher Michael Anderson and graduate students Jason Ensher and Michael Matthews.
The Bose-Einstein condensate, a new form of matter predicted by Albert Einstein and Satyendra Bose more than 70 years ago is expected to shed new light on the strange realm of quantum mechanics. It occurs when individual atoms meld into a "superatom" at about 170 billionths of a degree above absolute zero and was created by cooling rubidium atoms in a two-step process using laser and magnetic traps.
This epochal research also has been recognized by a series of other significant awards from around the world over the past two years, including the King Faisal International Prize in Science ($200,000), the AAAS-Newcomb Cleveland Prize, the Carl Zeiss Award, the Fritz London Prize in Low Temperature Physics, the American Physical Society's I. I. Rabi Award in Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics, the Presidential Early Career Award in Science and Engineering, and NIST's Samuel W. Stratton Award