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Theodor W. Hansch, executive director of the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics in Garching, Germany, will be awarded the 1996 Arthur L. Schawlow Prize in Laser Science during the APS Division of Laser Physics ILS-XII meeting, to be held 20-25 October 1996 in Rochester, New York. Sponsored by the NEC Corporation, the prize is intended to recognize outstanding contributions to basic research that uses lasers to advance knowledge of the fundamental physical properties of materials and their interaction with light.
Hansch's citation reads, "For his many outstanding contributions to laser spectroscopy including his extraordinary measurement of the spectrum of atomic hydrogen."
Hansch received his Ph.D. from the University of Heidelberg in 1969 and came to the U.S. the following year. He joined the faculty of Stanford University in 1972, where he remained until returning to Germany in 1985. His research interests include testing basic physics laws with techniques of precise laser spectroscopy and the cooling and manipulation of atomic matter with laser light. He is a past recipient of the APS Herbert P. Broida Prize (1983).
Hansch's first major work was the development of the first useful narrowband tunable dye laser, which is still a standard tool in many laboratories worldwide 20 years later. Over the years he has invented or developed many new spectroscopic techniques using this laser, effectively ushering in the modern age of laser spectroscopy. He recently carried out the first investigations of the effects of phase on laser cooling, and has been a leader in the production and study of optical lattices.
However, Hansch's most important work has undoubtedly been his dedication to the spectroscopy of the hydrogen atom over the past 20 years. His work has resulted in tremendous improvement in the resolution with which hydrogen atoms are now measured. He has measured the Rydberg constant far more accurately than any other fundamental constant is known, and his hydrogen spectra now provide among the most precise tests of QED corrections.
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