Oct 9, 2012 7:40 PM by Alyse Rzemek

CU Boulder physicist wins Nobel Prize

David J. Wineland, a lecturer in the University of Colorado Boulder physics department won the 2012 Nobel Prize in physics on Tuesday. Wineland is described as both "brilliant and humble" by one of his former graduate students.

Wineland is a physicist with the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Boulder and internationally recognized for developing the technique of using lasers to cool ions to near absolute zero. His experiments have been used to test theories in quantum physics and may lead to the development of quantum computers. He shared the prize with Serge Haroche of France.

Wineland joined the CU-Boulder physics faculty as a lecturer in 2000 and currently works with four CU-Boulder graduate students pursuing doctorates, said physics department chair Paul Beale.

"It would be difficult to find a more brilliant and humble scientist," said John Jost, who worked in Wineland's group for about 10 years as a CU-Boulder doctoral student and postdoctoral researcher. "I feel lucky to have worked in his lab for my Ph.D. regardless of whether or not he won the Nobel Prize. He was always available when we had questions and problems in the lab and usually had some great idea about what to try next. At the same time, he gave us the freedom to figure things out on our own."

In August, Jost began a Marie Curie fellowship as a postdoctoral researcher in the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Wineland's first demonstration of laser cooling in 1978 led many other scientists to pursue the laser cooling and trapping of atoms. His research helped make possible the creation of the world's first Bose-Einstein condensate, for which Carl Wieman of CU and JILA and Eric Cornell of NIST and JILA and CU were awarded the Nobel Prize in physics in 2001. JILA is a joint institute of CU-Boulder and NIST.

Five CU-Boulder faculty members have now won individual Nobel Prizes. The other two winners are Tom Cech in chemistry and John "Jan" Hall in physics.

Following are statements from University of Colorado officials on the winning of the Nobel Prize today by David Wineland, lecturer in the CU-Boulder Department of Physics:

"On behalf of the CU Board of Regents and the entire university community, congratulations to Dr. Wineland and his colleagues. This distinct honor demonstrates the exceedingly high quality of the work being done at CU and in collaboration with our federal partners. We are very proud of our fifth Nobel Laureate."




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