Wolfgang Ketterle

Wolfgang Ketterle (born 21 October 1957) is a German physicist and professor of physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). His research has focused on experiments that trap and cool atoms to temperatures close to absolute zero,[1] and he led one of the first groups to realize Bose–Einstein condensation in these systems in 1995.[2] For this achievement, as well as early fundamental studies of condensates, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2001, together with Eric Allin Cornell and Carl Wieman.[3]

Wolfgang Ketterle
Wolfgang Ketterle at a symposium at Brown University, 2007
Born21 October 1957 (age 61)
NationalityGermany, United States
Alma materHeidelberg
Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics
Known forBose–Einstein condensates
AwardsBenjamin Franklin Medal (2000)
Nobel Prize for Physics (2001)
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of Heidelberg
Doctoral advisorHerbert Walther
Hartmut Figger


Ketterle was born in Heidelberg, Baden-Württemberg, and attended school in Eppelheim and Heidelberg.[4] In 1976 he entered the University of Heidelberg, before transferring to the Technical University of Munich two years later, where he gained the equivalent of his master's diploma in 1982.[4][5] In 1986 he earned a Ph.D in experimental molecular spectroscopy under the supervision of Herbert Walther and Hartmut Figger at the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics in Garching, before conducting postdoctoral research at Garching and the University of Heidelberg.[5] In 1990 he joined the group of David E. Pritchard in the Research Laboratory of Electronics at MIT (RLE).[4] He was appointed to the MIT physics faculty in 1993 and, since 1998, he has been John D. MacArthur Professor of Physics.[5] In 2006, he was appointed Associate Director of RLE and began serving as director of MIT's Center for Ultracold Atoms.[5]

After achieving Bose–Einstein condensation in dilute gases in 1995, his group was in 1997 able to demonstrate interference between two colliding condensates,[6] as well as the first realization of an "atom laser", the atomic analogue of an optical laser.[7] In addition to ongoing investigations of Bose–Einstein condensates in ultracold atoms, his more recent achievements have included the creation of a molecular Bose condensate in 2003,[8] as well as a 2005 experiment providing evidence for "high-temperature" superfluidity in a fermionic condensate.[9]

Ketterle is also a runner featured in the December 2009 issue of Runner's World's "I'm a Runner".[10] Ketterle spoke of taking his running shoes to Stockholm when he received the Nobel Prize and happily running in the early dusk. Ketterle completed the 2013 Boston Marathon with a time of 2:49:16, [11] and in 2014, in Boston, ran a personal record of 2:44:06.

Ketterle serves on the Board of Trustees of the Center for Excellence in Education (CEE),[12] and participates in the Distinguished Lecture Series of CEE's flagship program for high-school students, the Research Science Institute (RSI), which Ketterle's own son Jonas attended in 2003. Ketterle sits on the International Scientific Advisory Committee of Australia's Centre for Future Low-Energy Electronics Technologies[13].

Personal life

Since 2011, Ketterle has been married to Michèle Plott. He has five children, three with Gabriele Ketterle, to whom he was married from 1985 to 2001.[4]


  • K. B. Davis; M. O. Mewes; M. R. Andrews; N. J. van Druten; D. S. Durfee; D. M. Kurn & W. Ketterle (27 November 1995). "Bose-Einstein Condensation in a Gas of Sodium Atoms". Physical Review Letters. 75 (22): 3969–3973. Bibcode:1995PhRvL..75.3969D. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.75.3969. PMID 10059782.
  • M. R. Andrews; C. G. Townsend; H.-J. Miesner; D. S. Durfee; D. M. Kurn & W. Ketterle (1997). "Observation of interference between two Bose condensates". Science. 275 (5300): 637–641. CiteSeerX doi:10.1126/science.275.5300.637. PMID 9005843.
  • M. O. Mewes; M. R. Andrews; D. M. Kurn; D. S. Durfee; C. G. Townsend & W. Ketterle (27 January 1997). "Output Coupler for Bose-Einstein Condensed Atoms". Physical Review Letters. 78 (4): 582–585. Bibcode:1997PhRvL..78..582M. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.78.582.
  • M. W. Zwierlein; C. A. Stan; C. H. Schunck; S. M. F. Raupach; S. Gupta; Z. Hadzibabic & W. Ketterle (2003). "Observation of Bose-Einstein Condensation of Molecules". Physical Review Letters. 91 (25): 250401. arXiv:cond-mat/0311617. Bibcode:2003PhRvL..91y0401Z. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.91.250401. PMID 14754098.


  1. ^ "Wolfgang Ketterle". MIT Department of Physics. Retrieved 27 October 2014.
  2. ^ Shachtman, Tom (January 2008). "The Coldest Place in the Universe". Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved 27 October 2014.
  3. ^ "Nobel Prize in Physics 2001". Nobelprize.org. Nobel Media. Retrieved 27 October 2014.
  4. ^ a b c d "Wolfgang Ketterle - Biographical". Nobelprize.org. Nobel Media. Retrieved 27 October 2014.
  5. ^ a b c d "Curriculum Vitae - Wolfgang Ketterle" (PDF). Alkali BEC Projects @ MIT. Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 April 2015. Retrieved 27 October 2014.
  6. ^ "Interference of Two Condensates". Alkali BEC Projects @ MIT. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 27 October 2014.
  7. ^ Ketterle, Wolfgang (20 November 2002). "Nobel lecture: When atoms behave as waves: Bose-Einstein condensation and the atom laser" (PDF). Reviews of Modern Physics. 74 (4): 1131–51. Bibcode:2002RvMP...74.1131K. doi:10.1103/revmodphys.74.1131. Retrieved 27 October 2014.
  8. ^ "Physicists perform ultracold coup over molecules". MIT News. 18 December 2003. Retrieved 27 October 2014.
  9. ^ "High-Temperature Superfluidity". Atomic Quantum Gases @ MIT. Archived from the original on 8 September 2015. Retrieved 27 October 2014.
  10. ^ Doucleff, Michaeleen (3 November 2009). "I'm A Runner: Wolfgang Ketterle, Ph.D." Runner's World. Retrieved 27 October 2014.
  11. ^ "2013 Boston Marathon Top Finishers". registration.baa.org. Retrieved 27 October 2014.
  12. ^ "Board of Trustees". Center for Excellence in Education. Retrieved 27 October 2014.
  13. ^ "Prof Ketterle biography". Centre for Future Low-Energy Electronics Technologies. Retrieved 9 November 2017.

External links

1957 in science

The year 1957 in science and technology involved some significant events, listed below.

2001 in science

The year 2001 in science and technology involved many events, some of which are included below.

Acousto-optic deflector

An acousto-optic deflector (AOD) spatially controls the optical beam. In the operation of an acousto-optic deflector the power driving the acoustic transducer is kept on, at a constant level, while the acoustic frequency is varied to deflect the beam to different angular positions. The acousto-optic deflector makes use of the acoustic frequency dependent diffraction angle, where a change in the angle as a function of the change in frequency given as,

where is the optical wavelength and is the velocity of the acoustic wave.

AOD technology has made practical the Bose–Einstein condensation for which the 2001 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to Eric A. Cornell, Wolfgang Ketterle and Carl E. Wieman. Another application of acoustic-optical deflection is optical trapping of small molecules.

AODs are essentially the same as acousto-optic modulators (AOMs). In both an AOM and an AOD, the amplitude and frequency of different orders are adjusted as light is diffracted.

Brilliant Light Power

Brilliant Light Power, Inc. (BLP), formerly BlackLight Power, Inc. of Cranbury, New Jersey, is a company founded by Randell L. Mills, who claims to have discovered a new energy source. The purported energy source is based on Mills' assertion that the electron in a hydrogen atom can drop below the lowest energy state known as the ground state. Mills calls these hypothetical hydrogen atoms that are in an energy state below ground level, "hydrinos". Mills self-published a closely related book, The Grand Unified Theory of Classical Physics and has co-authored articles on claimed hydrino-related phenomena.Critics say it lacks corroborating scientific evidence, and is a relic of cold fusion. Critical analysis of the claims have been published in the peer reviewed journals Physics Letters A, New Journal of Physics, Journal of Applied Physics, and Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics on the basis that Quantum Mechanics is valid, and that the proposed hydrino states are unphysical and incompatible with key equations of Quantum Mechanics.In 2009, IEEE Spectrum magazine characterized it as a "loser" technology because "most experts don't believe such lower states exist, and they say the experiments don't present convincing evidence" and mentioned that Wolfgang Ketterle had said the claims are "nonsense". BLP has announced several times that it was about to deliver commercial products based on Mill's theories but has not delivered a working product.

Carl Wieman

Carl Edwin Wieman (born March 26, 1951) is an American physicist and educationist at Stanford University. In 1995, while at the University of Colorado Boulder, he and Eric Allin Cornell produced the first true Bose–Einstein condensate (BEC) and, in 2001, they and Wolfgang Ketterle (for further BEC studies) were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics. Wieman currently holds a joint appointment as Professor of Physics and Professor in the Stanford Graduate School of Education, as well as the DRC Professor in the Stanford University School of Engineering.

David E. Pritchard

David Edward Pritchard (born October 15, 1941 in New York City) is physics professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Professor Pritchard carried out pioneering experiments on the interaction of atoms with light that led to the creation of the field of atom optics. His demonstration of the diffraction of a beam of atoms by a grating made of light waves opened the way to studies of the diffraction, reflection, and focusing of matter waves, similar to those with light waves. He has applied atom optics to basic studies of quantum theory, to new methods for studying the properties of atoms, and to the creation of devices such as the atom interferometer and atom wave gyroscope.

In 1990, he brought Wolfgang Ketterle to MIT as a postdoctoral researcher to work on atom cooling, and stepped aside from that field to allow Ketterle to be appointed to the faculty in 1992. Ketterle pursued atom cooling to achieve Bose–Einstein condensation in 1995, a discovery for which Ketterle was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2001, along with Eric Cornell and Carl Wieman of JILA, Boulder, Colorado. Professor Pritchard also mentored Eric Cornell, who was his graduate student.


Eppelheim is a city in northern Baden-Württemberg bordering Heidelberg. It belongs to the district Rhein-Neckar-Kreis.

Eric Allin Cornell

Eric Allin Cornell (born December 19, 1961) is an American physicist who, along with Carl E. Wieman, was able to synthesize the first Bose–Einstein condensate in 1995. For their efforts, Cornell, Wieman, and Wolfgang Ketterle shared the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2001.

Experimental physics

Experimental physics is the category of disciplines and sub-disciplines in the field of physics that are concerned with the observation of physical phenomena and experiments. Methods vary from discipline to discipline, from simple experiments and observations, such as the Cavendish experiment, to more complicated ones, such as the Large Hadron Collider.

Fermionic condensate

A fermionic condensate is a superfluid phase formed by fermionic particles at low temperatures. It is closely related to the Bose–Einstein condensate, a superfluid phase formed by bosonic atoms under similar conditions. The earliest recognized fermionic condensate described the state of electrons in a superconductor; the physics of other examples including recent work with fermionic atoms is analogous. The first atomic fermionic condensate was created by a team led by Deborah S. Jin in 2003.

German Academic Exchange Service

The German Academic Exchange Service or DAAD (German: Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst) is the largest German support organisation in the field of international academic co-operation.

List of Fritz London Memorial Prizes

The Fritz London Memorial Prize was created to recognize scientists who made outstanding contributions to the advances of the field of Low Temperature Physics. It is traditionally awarded in the first session of the International Conference on Low Temperature Physics, which is sponsored by the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics. The prize is named in honor of Fritz London.

List of Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich people

This is a list of people associated with Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich in Germany.

MIT Physics Department

The Physics Department at MIT has over 120 faculty members. It offers academic programs leading to the SB, SM, PhD, and ScD degrees.

As of 2018, the department counts five Nobel Prize winners among its faculty: Samuel C.C. Ting (1976), Jerome I. Friedman (1990), Wolfgang Ketterle (2001), Frank Wilczek (2004) and Rainer Weiss (2017). A few other former faculty members have also been so honored: Clifford Shull (1994), Henry Kendall (1990), Steven Weinberg (1979) and Charles H. Townes (1964). MIT Physics alumni who have received the Nobel Prize for Physics are Adam Riess (2011), George Smoot (2006), Eric A. Cornell and Carl E. Wieman (2001), Robert B. Laughlin (1998), William D. Phillips (1997), Burton Richter (1976), John Robert Schrieffer (1972), Murray Gell-Mann (1969), Richard Feynman (1965) and William Shockley (1956).

Order of Merit of Baden-Württemberg

Order of Merit of Baden-Württemberg (German: Verdienstorden des Landes Baden-Württemberg) is the highest award of the German State of Baden-Württemberg. Established 26 November 1974, it was originally called the Medal of Merit of Baden-Wuerttemberg (Die Verdienstmedaille des Landes Baden-Württemberg). Effective 26 June 2009, the medal assumed its current name. The order is awarded by the Minister-President of Baden-Württemberg for outstanding contributions to the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, in politics, society, culture and economics. The order is limited to 1,000 living holders, and has been awarded 1,923 times, as of 30 April 2018.

Quantum optics

Quantum optics (QO) is a field of research that uses semi-classical and quantum-mechanical physics to investigate phenomena involving light and its interactions with matter at submicroscopic levels. In other words it is quantum mechanics applied to photons or light.

Research Science Institute

The Research Science Institute (RSI) is an international summer research program for high school students. RSI is sponsored by the Center for Excellence in Education (CEE) and hosted by MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Widely regarded as one of the most prestigious honors for high school students, RSI brings together the top STEM talent from around the world for the opportunity to conduct original scientific research, cost-free, for six weeks during the summer, before their final year of high school.


Wolfgang is a German male given name traditionally popular in Germany and Austria. The name is a combination of the Old High German words wolf, meaning "wolf," and gang, meaning "path, journey." Besides the regular "wolf", the first element also occurs in Old High German as the combining form "-olf". "Wolf" (in Old High German) or "wulf" (in most other Germanic languages) is a popular element of the common dithematic Germanic names. The word is present in hundreds of German names. Some Germanic names with this element include Adolf, Aethelwulf, Beowulf, Cynewulf, Rudolf, Wulfstan, Ulfilas, and Wulf. "Gang" is found in such names as Gangperht, Gangulf, Bertegang, Druhtgang, Hildigang, Hrodegang, and Wiligang.

The earliest reference of the name being used was in the 8th century. The name was also attested as "Vulfgang" in the Reichenauer Verbrüderungsbuch in the 9th century, The earliest recorded famous bearer of the name was a tenth-century Saint Wolfgang of Regensburg. Due to the lack of conflict with the pagan reference in the name with Catholicism, it is likely a much more ancient name whose meaning had already been lost by the tenth-century. Grimm (Teutonic Mythology p. 1093) interpreted the name as that of a hero in front of whom walks the "wolf of victory". A Latin gloss by Arnold of St Emmeram interprets the name as Lupambulus.

2001 Nobel Prize laureates
Physiology or Medicine
Economic Sciences

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.