"For his achievements as an undergraduate student at Harvard University, particularly his research on 'Laser Manipulation of Three Level System'."
As an undergraduate at Harvard University, Chu began taking graduate courses his junior year, eventually serving as chief theorist in his research group. He choose to write his senior thesis on laser manipulation of atomic systems with three discretely arranged energy levels, particularly in the area of interaction between light and three-level atoms in the "Lambda" and "V" configurations.
Chu did all of the derivations and calculations for an experiment using the interaction between a "V" atom and two standing wave fields of different frequencies to produce a coherent "blazed grating" beamsplitter, independently developing a new model that uses "family of states" to describe the interaction. He derived a similar "family of states" model for cooling in a "Lambda" system interacting with two standing wave fields with the same frequency but opposite polarizations, even though several professional theorists believed that such a language could never be applied to that system. Chu continues to pursue graduate studies at the University of London's Imperial College under a Marshall Scholarship.