Arlington, Va.—The 2005 Wolf Prize for Physics has been awarded to Prof. Daniel Kleppner of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for "ground-breaking work in the atomic physics of hydrogenic systems, including research on the hydrogen maser, Rydberg atoms and Bose-Einstein condensation." The Prize, sponsored by the Wolf Foundation, consists of $100,000 and is awarded by the President of Israel. It is widely considered to be the most prestigious prize in physics after the Nobel Prize.
Prof. Kleppner, whose work has been supported by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) since the beginning of his scientific career, has been on the faculty of MIT since 1962. He currently serves as Lester Wolfe Professor of Physics, the Director of the MIT-Harvard Center for Ultracold Atoms, and Associate Director of the MIT Research Laboratory of Electronics. He was a student of ONR grantee Prof. Norman Ramsey (Harvard University), who received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1989; was the Ph.D. thesis advisor of ONR grantee Dr. William Phillips (National Institute of Standards and Technology), Nobel Laureate in 1997; and supervised the undergraduate research of ONR grantee Prof. Carl Wieman, Nobel Laureate in 2001.
Among Prof. Kleppner’s many noteworthy scientific accomplishments are the development of the hydrogen maser (jointly with Prof. Ramsey), pioneering studies of the spectroscopy of Rydberg atoms, and the production of a Bose-Einstein condensate in spin-polarized atomic hydrogen. His work has laid the foundation for dramatic improvements in navigation and timekeeping technologies, which are areas of central importance to the U.S. Navy.
"ONR has been a colleague and a partner in my research, since the beginning of my scientific career. I have enjoyed bouncing ideas off enthusiastic ONR program managers, and have benefited from their advice as well as their material support," said Prof. Kleppner. He is currently supported by a grant from the ONR Electronics Division, and is also a co-principal investigator of the "Advanced Technologies for Optical Frequency Control and Optical Clocks" MURI program.