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Dr. William D. Phillips, one of three recipients of the 1997 Nobel Prize in Physics, will give a special colloquium at 4 p.m. Thursday, April 1. He will give a talk titled “A New Measure: The Revolutionary Quantum Reform of the Metric System.” Register for the presentation. You will receive a confirmation email with instructions for joining the meeting.
In his presentation, Phillips will chronicle the redefinition of the SI base units by fixing fundamental constants of nature. He will discuss why the international metrology community adopted such a reform, and how it was accomplished. As the field of measurement science affects disciplines across STEM as well as our everyday lives, the presentation will be accessible and engaging for individuals across the Missouri S&T community.
This virtual seminar is presented through the physics department and organized by the American Nuclear Society and Society of Physics Students at Missouri S&T.
Phillips earned a bachelor’s degree in physics from Juniata College in 1970, and earned a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1976. He later joined NIST (then the National Bureau of Standards) to work on precision electrical measurements and fundamental constants. There, he initiated a new research program to cool atomic gases with laser light. Phillips founded NIST’s Laser Cooling and Trapping Group, and later was a founding member of the Joint Quantum Institute, a cooperative research organization of NIST and the University of Maryland devoted to the study of quantum coherent phenomena. His research group has been responsible for developing some of the main techniques now used for laser-cooling and cold-atom experiments in laboratories around the world. Their achievements include: the first electromagnetic trapping of neutral atoms; achieving laser-cooled samples within a millionth of a degree of absolute zero; the confinement of atoms in optical lattices; and coherent atom-optical manipulation of atomic-gas Bose-Einstein condensates. Atomic fountain clocks, based on the work of this group, are now the primary standards for world timekeeping. The group’s current research directions include the use of ultra-cold atoms for quantum information processing and quantum simulation of important physical problems.
Phillips is a fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is a fellow and honorary member of the Optical Society of America, a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, and a corresponding member of the Mexican Academy of Sciences. In 1997, Phillips shared the Nobel Prize in Physics “for development of methods to cool and trap atoms with laser light.”