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Nobel Awarded for Condensates

Photonics Spectra
Nov 2001
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm has awarded the 2001 Nobel Prize in physics to Eric A. Cornell, Carl E. Wieman and Wolfgang Ketterle for their creation of Bose-Einstein condensates. The researchers will share the $943,000 prize, which will be presented at the 100th anniversary celebration of the prizes in Stockholm on Dec. 10.

Bose-Einstein condensates, predicted by Albert Einstein based on the calculations of Satyendra Nath Bose, are groups of atoms that are so cold that they are in the same quantum mechanical state, forming a single so-called superatom. In 1995, Cornell and Wieman succeeded in creating a rubidium condensate, using a magneto-optical technique to trap and cool 2000 atoms to a temperature of 20 nK. Independently that same year, Ketterle generated a condensate of sodium.

Cornell is a senior scientist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Boulder, Colo., and a professor adjoint at the University of Colorado in Boulder. Wieman is a professor of physics at the university. Both also work at JILA (formerly the Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics) in Boulder. Ketterle is a professor of physics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge.

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