National Institute of Standards and Technology researcher David Wineland on Monday received the Nobel Prize for physics in a ceremony in Stockholm.
Wineland, who also lectures and advises graduate students at the University of Colorado, shared the prize with Serge Haroche of the College de France and Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris.
They were honored for their work in quantum optics. They have developed methods for observing tiny quantum particles without destroying them, and their research has led to the construction of extremely precise clocks that could become the basis for a new standard of measuring time and helped scientists take the first steps toward building superfast computers.
"Together with their research groups, (they) have used cleverly designed experiments to successfully perform the trick of controlling and measuring single isolated quantum systems without destroying their quantum properties," explained Nobel Committee for Physics chairman Prof. Bjorn Jonson before the men received their medals from the King of Sweden.
"In the laboratory, they have shown that it is possible to perform tricks according to the rules of quantum physics that were previously not thought possible," Jonson said. "They have shown how to study and control and count quantum systems. One may call this mastering without touching -- since the enchantment of the micro-world would otherwise disappear."
Their approaches are different, he said. Wineland cools atoms to near absolute zero and uses photons of light to control them. Haroche captures single photons between mirrors and keeps them there long enough to measure and control them.
Wineland -- who has been at NIST for 37 years -- is the fourth Nobel winner since 1997 to have worked at NIST. Wineland is also the fifth Nobel Prize winner in science with ties to CU. He has been a lecturer at CU since 2000 and supervises groups of graduate students who work at his lab at NIST in Boulder.
At a news conference in his honor when the prize was announced in October, Wineland told the Camera that he considers the award to be one he shares with all those he's worked with and who are working on similar problems around the world.
"It's obviously a huge boost for the field," he said. "I'm just one of many people working on projects like this. I think it's a good sign for science that our field is recognized that way."