Wolfgang Ketterle
  • 2001 Nobel Prize in Physics


German physicist and professor of physics at MIT. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2001, together with Eric Allin Cornell and Carl Wieman, "for the achievement of Bose-Einstein condensation in dilute gases of alkali atoms, and for early fundamental studies of the properties of the condensates".

Education and Work Experience

1986, Ph.D., Physics, Ludwig-Maximilians University of Munich and Max-Planck Institute for Quantum Optics, Garching, Germany
1988-Present, John D. MacArthur Professor of Physics, MIT
2006-Present, Director of the Center of Ultracold Atoms, MIT

Honors and Awards

1997, Fellow of the American Physical Society
2001, Nobel Prize in Physics
2002, Foreign Member of the United States National Academy of Sciences

Major Academic Achievements

Professor Ketterle's research is in atomic physics and laser spectroscopy, particularly in the area of laser cooling and trapping of neutral atoms with the goal of exploring new aspects of ultracold atomic matter. Since the discovery of gaseous Bose-Einstein condensation, large samples of ultracold atoms at nanokelvin temperatures are available. His research group uses such samples for various directions of research. Bose-Einstein condensates are a new quantum fluid. The interactions among the atoms make them an intriguing novel many-body system. Aspects of interest are sound, superfluidity, and properties of miscible and immiscible multi-component condensates.
The coherence properties of the condensate are exploited in the field of atom optics. Coherent beams of atoms extracted from the condensate ("atom lasers") are analogous to optical laser beams. Ketterle's research group has used Bose-Einstein condensates as amplifiers for light and for atoms. A third direction is precision measurements. The unprecedented control over the position and velocity of atoms provided by Bose-Einstein condensates is exploited for high precision atom interferometry.