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William D. Phillips

William Daniel Phillips
Phillips at the 2012 Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting
Born (1948-11-05) November 5, 1948 (age 65)
Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania
Nationality United States
Fields Physics
Institutions NIST
University of Maryland, College Park
Alma mater MIT
Juniata College
Known for Laser cooling
Notable awards Nobel Prize in physics (1997)

William Daniel Phillips (born November 5, 1948) is a Nobel Prize award winning, American physicist. He shared the Nobel Prize in Physics, in 1997, with Steven Chu and Claude Cohen-Tannoudji.


Phillips was born to William Cornelius Phillips and Mary Catherine Savino. He is of Italian and Welsh descent. [1] His parents moved to Camp Hill (near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania) in 1959, where he attended high school and graduated valedictorian of his class. He graduated from Juniata College in 1970 summa cum laude. After that he received his physics doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

In 1996, he received the Albert A. Michelson Medal from The Franklin Institute.[2]

Phillips' doctoral thesis concerned the magnetic moment of the proton in H2O. This led to connections that would later be important in his research. He later did some work with Bose-Einstein condensates. In 1997 he won the Nobel Prize in Physics (together with Claude Cohen-Tannoudji and Steven Chu) for his contributions to laser cooling (and especially for his invention of the Zeeman slower), a technique to slow the movement of gaseous atoms in order to better study them, at the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Phillips is also a professor of physics at University of Maryland, College Park.

He was one of the 35 Nobel Laureates who signed a letter urging President Obama to provide a stable $15 billion per annum support for clean energy research, technology and demonstration[3]

He is one of three well-known scientists and Methodist laity who have involved themselves in the religion and science dialogue. The other two scientists and fellow Methodists are chemist Charles Coulson and 1981 Nobel laureate Arthur Leonard Schawlow.

In Oct 2010 Phillips participated in the USA Science and Engineering Festival's Lunch with a Laureate program where middle and high school students got to engage in an informal conversation with a Nobel Prize winning Scientist over a brown bag lunch.[4] Phillips is also a member of the USA Science and Engineering Festival's Advisory Board.[5]

Personal life

Phillips married Jane Van Wynen shortly before he went to MIT. Neither had been regular churchgoers early in their marriage. However, in 1979, they joined the Fairhaven Rebound Designs, and Christine Phillips (b 1981) who works in Science Communication.

During a seminar at the UMCP Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry titled Coherent Atoms in Optical Lattices Phillips stated, "Rubidium is God's gift to Bose-Einstein condensates."

Notes and references

External links

  • Nobel autobiography
  • Curriculum Vitae from NIST.
  • development of methods to cool and trap atoms with laser light.
  • "Nobelist William Phillips Addresses ASA '99"

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