University of Minnesota
School of Physics & Astronomy

Abigail and John Van Vleck Lectures

Wolfgang Ketterle
John D. MacArthur Professor of Physics,
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
2001 Nobel Laureate

Public Lecture:
4:00 p.m., Monday March 7, 2005
Tate Laboratory of Physics, Room 150, Van Vleck Auditorium
Bose-Einstein Condensates - the Coldest Matter in the Universe
Reception following lecture in Physics 216
Abstract: What happens when a gas is cooled to absolute zero? A new door to the quantum world opens up because all the atoms start "marching in lockstep", they form one giant matter wave - the Bose-Einstein condensate. This was predicted by Einstein in 1925, but only realized in 1995 in laboratories at Boulder and at MIT. Since then, many properties of this mysterious form of matter have been revealed. Recently, a new frontier has opened up on Bose-Einstein condensation of molecules and atom pairs. The talk will link basic concepts of quantum mechanics with today's research, and discuss the techniques to cool and manipulate matter at nanokelvin temperatures.
4:00 p.m., Tuesday, March 8, 2005
Tate Laboratory of Physics, Room 131
Bose-Einstein Condensation of Atoms, Molecules and Fermion Pairs
Refreshments served in room 216 at 3:30 p.m.
Abstract: Quantum degenerate ultracold gases are used to explore new phenomena in condensed matter physics, and to advance atom optics. Ketterle will present recent results including a new low-temperature record of 500 picokelvin, and experiments with atom chips where the magnetic field of miniaturized wires traps and manipulates ultracold atoms close to a surface. Ultracold molecules could be created from ultracold atoms in a chemical reaction without heat release. This technique led to the first observations of Bose-Einstein condensation of molecules. A condensate of molecules consisting of two fermionic lithium atoms realizes the strong coupling limit of superfluidity of fermion pairs. This is the starting point for exploring the BEC-BCS crossover in a strongly interacting gas of fermions.

Wolfgang Ketterle, the Thirtieth Abigail and John Van Vleck Lecturer, is John D. MacArthur Professor of Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is an experimentalist studying atomic physics and laser spectroscopy particularly in the area of laser cooling and trapping of neutral atoms with the goal of exploring new aspects of ultracold atomic matter. He was amongst the first scientists to observe Bose-Einstein condensation (BEC) in dilute atomic gases in 1995 and was awarded (with Eric Cornell and Carl Wieman) the 2001 Nobel Prize for this work. Other major research accomplishments include the first realization of an atom laser, the development of important tools to manipulate and study Bose-Einstein condensates and several seminal studies of properties of Bose-Einstein condensates.

Professor Ketterle received his Pre-diploma (Vordiplom) degree from the University of Heidelberg in 1978, Diploma (equivalent to a master�s degree) from the Technical University of Munich in 1982 and Ph.D. degree from the University of Munich in 1986. He held postdoctoral positions at Max-Planck Institute for Quantum Optics in Garching and the University of Heidelberg before accepting a postdoctoral appointment at MIT in 1990. He was appointed to the MIT faculty in 1993. Throughout his scientific career Professor Ketterle has explored many areas of scientific research from theory to applied research to fundamental studies in the fields of condensed matter and statistical physics, laser physics and molecular spectroscopy, and his current area of atomic physics and laser spectroscopy.

Awards, in addition to the Nobel Prize, that Professor Ketterle has been honored with include the David and Lucile Packard Fellowship (1996), the Rabi Prize of the American Physical Society (1997), the Gustav-Hertz Prize of the German Physical Society (1997), the Discover Magazine Award for Technological Innovation (1998), the Fritz London Prize in Low Temperature Physics (1999), the Dannie-Heineman Prize of the Academy of Sciences, G�ttingen, Germany (1999), and the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Physics (2000).

Professor Ketterle is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Institute of Physics. He is a foreign associate member of the National Academy of Sciences, titular member of the European Academy of Arts, Sciences and Humanities and member of the Academy of Sciences in Heidelberg, the Bavarian Academy of Sciences, the German Physical Society and the Optical Society of America.