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2012 Physics Nobel for Pioneering Work on Quantum Mechanics of Atoms and Photons

Tuesday, October 09, 2012


Serge Haroche  and David J. Winerland win the 2012 Nobel Prize “for ground-breaking experimental methods that enable measuring and manipulation of individual quantum systems".

COLLEGE PARK, MD – The 2012 Nobel Prize for Physics has been awarded to two physicists who performed experiments exploring aspects of quantum mechanics of particles and photons.
Serge Haroche of the Collège de France has focused primarily on trapping photons and studying their interactions with atoms, while David Wineland of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Boulder, CO studies the quantum mechanics of atoms trapped and manipulated with lasers.


The prize-winning work is crucial to studying and confirming the often counter-intuitive nature of quantum mechanical systems. The experiments the two physicists performed lay the foundation for technology allowing the construction of quantum computers, which could solve problems far beyond the capabilities of even the most advanced conventional computers. Modern, ultra-precise clocks rely on the techniques developed by Haroche, Wineland and other scientists working on the forefront of quantum mechanical experimentation.

Both Haroche and Wineland are Fellows of the American Physical Society. Wineland has also won two of the APS prestigious prizes: the 2001 Schawlow Prize in Laser Science, and the 1990 Davisson-Germer Prize in Atomic or Surface Physics. 
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