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Nobel prize winner to speak at ECU

(Mar. 20, 2000)   —   Some of the newest and most exciting developments in physics will be described in a public lecture on Thursday, March 30, at East Carolina University by one of America's top atomic scientists.

Dr. William D. Phillips, winner of the 1997 Nobel Prize, will give a presentation about his research at 5 p.m. in Room BN-103 of the Howell Science Center. His address is titled "Almost Absolute Zero: The Story of Laser Cooling and Trapping."

Phillips is the leader for the Laser Cooling and Trapping Group in the Atomic Physics Division of the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, Md. His work there has led to techniques that use lasers to cool a gas of atoms to less than a millionth of a degree above absolute zero -- the coldest temperature in the universe.

Among his findings are methods that can be used to trap the chilled atoms for productive uses. These uses range from super-accurate atomic clocks needed for space navigation and for new quantum devices such as atomic lasers which may be used in the future to manufacture very small electronic components. His lecture will be aimed at a general audience of non-scientists and will describe how laser cooling works, and why it works better than anyone had expected it to.

He is also scheduled to speak to ECU physics students at 3 p.m. in Room E-103 of the Physics Wing of the Howell Science Complex. Phillips, 52, is a native of Wilkes-Barre, Pa. He completed his doctoral degree in physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1976. In addition to the Nobel Prize, he has won the Albert A. Michelson Medal from the Franklin Institute in 1996 and the American Physical Society's Arthur L. Schawlow Prize in Laser Science from the American Physical Society in 1998. He had been scheduled to speak at ECU last October, but the hurricane and subsequent flood that closed the Greenville airport resulted in the postponement of his visit.


 


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