October 9, 2012

2012 Nobel Prize for Physics:
Pioneering Work on Quantum Mechanics of Trapped Photons and Ions Recognized

Serge Haroche  •  David Wineland

COLLEGE PARK, MD –  The 2012 Nobel Prize for Physics has been awarded to two American Physical Society Fellows who performed experiments exploring aspects of the quantum mechanics of photons and electrically charged atoms known as ions. The Nobel committee recognized the physicists for “ground-breaking experimental methods that enable measuring and manipulation of individual quantum systems".

“Haroche and Wineland have both done beautiful research vital to the technology that truly makes this the century of the quantum,” said APS president Robert Byer. “Modern telecommunications rely on quantum technology, and things like the GPS system so many people use on a daily basis wouldn’t be possible without ultra-precise clocks that exploit quantum effects of the type these two researchers explored. Someday, computers built with quantum mechanical systems, much like those in the labs of Haroche and Wineland, may solve problems far beyond the capabilities of even the most advanced of today’s computers. It's certainly amazing work these physicists have done, and continue to do, and well worth the Nobel committee's recognition.”

Serge Haroche of the Collège de France has focused primarily on trapping photons and studying their interactions with atoms, while David Wineland of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Boulder, CO studies the quantum mechanics of ions cooled and manipulated with lasers. The work of the 2012 Laureates is crucial to studying and confirming the often counterintuitive nature of quantum mechanical systems.

Wineland has also won two of the Society’s prestigious prizes: the 2001 Schawlow Prize in Laser Science, and the 1990 Davisson-Germer Prize in Atomic or Surface Physics. Haroche was recognized as a 2008 Outstanding Referee for his active participation in the physics peer review process.

Influential Physical Review Papers by Serge Haroche and David J. Wineland

APS is very pleased that much of this seminal work noted by the Nobel committee has been published in the APS journals: Physical Review Letters, Physical Review A, and Reviews of Modern Physics. To honor these laureates and their collaborators, we have made freely available five of their many APS publications that demonstrate some of the key insights of their pioneering work.

Observation of Free to ReadQuantum Jumps in a Single Atom
J. C. Bergquist, Randall G. Hulet, Wayne M. Itano, and D. J. Wineland
Phys. Rev. Lett. 57, 1699 – Published 6 October 1986

Quantum Rabi Oscillation: A Direct Test of Field Quantization in a Cavity
Free to ReadM. Brune, F. Schmidt-Kaler, A. Maali, J. Dreyer, E. Hagley, J. M. Raimond, and S. Haroche
Phys. Rev. Lett. 76, 1800 (1996) – Published 11 March 1996

Observing the Progressive Decoherence of the “Meter” in a Quantum Measurement
Free to ReadM. Brune, E. Hagley, J. Dreyer, X. Maître, A. Maali, C. Wunderlich, J. M. Raimond, and S. Haroche
Phys. Rev. Lett. 77, 4887 – Published 9 December 1996

Demonstration of a Fundamental Quantum Logic Gate
Free to ReadC. Monroe, D. M. Meekhof, B. E. King, W. M. Itano, and D. J. Wineland
Phys. Rev. Lett. 75, 4714 – Published 18 December 1995

Manipulation of photons in a cavity by dispersive atom-field coupling: Quantum-nondemolition measurements and generation of “Schrödinger cat” states
Free to ReadM. Brune, S. Haroche, J. M. Raimond, L. Davidovich, and N. Zagury
Phys. Rev. A 45, 5193 – Published April 1992

Further Information

Gray arrow  Moving Traps Offer Fast Delivery of Cold Ions
Physics Viewpoint, August 2012

Gray arrow  Essay: Fifty Years of Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics
Physical Review Letters, October 13, 2008, Serge Haroche

Gray arrow  Laser Cooling of Atoms
Physics Focus (Landmarks), April 2008

Gray arrow  Quantum Leap Reported for Entangled Photons
APS News, May 2007

Gray arrow  2001 Arthur L. Schawlow Prize in Laser Science
David J. Wineland

Gray arrow  1990 Davisson-Germer Prize in Atomic or Surface Physics
David J. Wineland

Serge Haroche - Nobel Prize 2012 from École normale supérieure
Credit: École normale supérieureSerge Haroche

David J Wineland - 2012 Nobel Prize Winner from Annenberg FoundationCredit: Physics for the 21st CenturyDavid J. Wineland

About APS

The American Physical Society is a nonprofit membership organization working to advance and diffuse the knowledge of physics through its outstanding research journals, scientific meetings, and education, outreach, advocacy, and international activities. APS represents more than 50,000 members, including physicists in academia, national laboratories, and industry in the United States and throughout the world.