Nobel Physics Laureate to Give Galeener Lecture at Colorado State

A winner of the 1997 Nobel Prize in physics will discuss his work on the laser trapping and cooling of atoms at a free public lecture at Colorado State University March 16.

William D. Phillips will deliver the Frank L. Galeener Memorial Lecture at 7:30 p.m. in the Lory Student Center Theatre on the Colorado State campus.

The talk, "Almost Absolute Zero: The Story of Laser Cooling and Trapping," is adapted from Phillips’ Nobel address in Stockholm but is intended for the general public and will highlight some of the newest developments in physics. The multi-media presentation will include demonstrations.

Phillips has worked at the National Institute for Standards and Technology since 1978 and presently is NIST Fellow and leader of the Laser Cooling and Trapping Group.

Phillips, Steven Chu and Claude Cohen-Tannoudji shared the 1997 Nobel Prize in physics for developing ways to use laser light to cool gases to within a few thousandths of a degree of absolute zero and to keep the chilled atoms floating in different kinds of "atom traps." Their research has contributed to knowledge about the interplay between light and matter.

"Contrary to intuition, we can cool down a gas by shining a laser on it," Phillips said. "My lecture will describe how laser cooling works, and why it works better than anyone expected it to. We can now cool a gas of atoms to less than a millionth of a degree above absolute zero–the coldest temperatures in the universe.

"Atoms this cold exhibit weird and wonderful properties and are being used for applications ranging from super-accurate atomic clocks to new quantum devices like atom lasers."

A Pennsylvania native, Phillips earned his doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1976.

The Galeener Lectures are held annually by Colorado State’s physics department to honor the late Frank Galeener, professor of physics until his death in 1993. He earned his doctorate in physics from Purdue University in 1970, joined the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center that year and was made principal scientist in 1977.

He received international recognition for his work on the structure of different types of glass and, among other honors, received the 1993 Morey Award from the American Ceramic Society.

Galeener moved to Colorado State in 1987 and established a research program on radiation damage in glass. He is remembered for his high standards, courage, consideration for others and his humor.

A public reception will follow the lecture.

For further information, call (970) 491-6206.