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

Kevin Young Named 2024 Harvard Arts Medalist

Museum director and poet to be honored April 24

How Air Pollution Affects Our Brains

An expert Harvard panel discusses the links between air pollution and dementia, learning, mental health, and mood.

Harvard Magazine March-April 2024 Scavenger Hunt

March-April 2024 Print Issue Scavenger Hunt

Most popular

Retreat and Recreate: Peddocks Island

This Boston Harbor island offers an urban oasis.

The “Bionic Leaf ”

Harvard scientists find a way to convert solar energy into a liquid fuel.

Net Effects

Janet Echelman’s urban sculptures take to the skies.

More to explore

Photograph of Winthrop Bell 1910

Winthrop Bell

Brief life of a philosopher and spy: 1884-1965

Illustration of people talking to each other with colorful thought bubbles above their heads

Talking about Talking

Fostering healthy disagreement

Vacationing with a Purpose

New England “summer camps” for adults