Nobel Prize in Physics Shared by David Wineland, Ph.D. ’70

The Harvard-educated physicist is recognized for using light to measure quantum states.

David Wineland

David J. Wineland, Ph.D. ’70, of the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the University of Colorado, has won the Nobel Prize in physics for his work with quantum systems. He will share the $1.2-million prize with Serge Haroche of the Collège de France and École Normale Supérieure, in Paris. The two scientists are recognized “for ground-breaking experimental methods that enable measuring and manipulation of individual quantum systems.”

Quantum states of matter are ephemeral and were long thought to be unmeasurable without destroying them. Wineland and his colleagues at NIST in Boulder, Colorado, have developed methods for experimental observation of quantum phenomena using individual particles of light, or photons. The Nobel Committee calls the work the “first steps” toward building a quantum computer or clocks a hundred times more precise than the “atomic” clocks in use today.

Update 10/16/2012: Wineland’s co-winner, Serge Haroche, also has Harvard ties, as noted in a 2012 Nobel wrap-up from the Harvard Gazette.

You might also like

The Roman Empire’s Cosmopolitan Frontier

Genetic analysis reveals a culture enriched from both sides of the Danube.

Tobacco Smoke and Tuberculosis

Harvard researchers illuminate a longstanding epidemiological connection. 

Discourse and Discipline

Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences broaches two tough topics.

Most popular

Small-Town Roots

Professors’ humble beginnings, concentration choices, and a mini history of Harvard and Radcliffe presidents

Vita: Fanny Bullock Workman

Brief life of a feisty mountaineer: 1859-1925

Being Black at Work

Realizing the full potential of black employees

More to explore

Illustration of a box containing a laid-off fossil fuel worker's office belongings

Preparing for the Energy Transition

Expect massive job losses in industries associated with fossil fuels. The time to get ready is now.

Apollonia Poilâne standing in front of rows of fresh-baked loaves at her family's flagship bakery

Her Bread and Butter

A third-generation French baker on legacy loaves and the "magic" of baking

Illustration that plays on the grade A+ and the term Ai

AI in the Academy

Generative AI can enhance teaching and learning but augurs a shift to oral forms of student assessment.