Carl E. Wieman

Stanford University

Election Year: 1995
Primary Section: 13, Physics
Secondary Section: 33, Applied Physical Sciences
Membership Type: Member

Research Interests

My research is generally classified as laser spectroscopy of atoms, but I have often used lasers and atoms as tools to study physics outside of traditional atomic physics. For many years I have worked on increasingly precise measurements of the "handedness" of atoms. This work now provides a sensitive "table top" test of the Standard Model of elementary particle physics. As a diversion from this difficult and time consuming project, about a decade ago I got involved with trapping and cooling atoms using laser light. My original and continuing interest was in finding simple and inexpensive ways to carry out such manipulation of atoms. For some time my research group has also been working to achieve higher densities and lower temperatures in trapped atom samples, with the particular goal of observing an effect predicted by Einstein in 1924, called Bose-Einstein condensation in a gas. In June 1995, our efforts were finally successful. When we cooled the atoms to less than 100 billionths of a degree above absolute zero, they all collapsed into a single macroscopic quantum state. Since that time we have carried out a number of experiments to probe this novel matter.

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