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Wolfgang Ketterle

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Title: Wolfgang Ketterle  
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Subject: List of Nobel laureates by university affiliation, Bose–Einstein condensate, BlackLight Power, Nobel Prize in Physics, Physicist
Collection: 1957 Births, Foreign Members of the Russian Academy of Sciences, German Nobel Laureates, German Physicists, Grand Crosses with Star and Sash of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, Heidelberg University Alumni, Living People, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Faculty, Members of the Optical Society, Members of the United States National Academy of Sciences, Nobel Laureates in Physics, People from Heidelberg, Studienstiftung Alumni, Technische Universität München Alumni
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Wolfgang Ketterle

Wolfgang Ketterle
Wolfgang Ketterle at a symposium at Brown University, 2007
Born (1957-10-21) 21 October 1957
Heidelberg, West Germany
Nationality Germany, United States
Fields Physics
Institutions University of Heidelberg
Alma mater Heidelberg
Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics
Doctoral advisor Herbert Walther
Hartmut Figger
Known for Bose–Einstein condensates
Notable awards The Benjamin Franklin Medal (2000), Nobel Prize for Physics (2001)

Wolfgang Ketterle (born 21 October 1957) is a German physicist and professor of physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). His research has focused on experiments that trap and cool atoms to temperatures close to absolute zero,[1] and he led one of the first groups to realize Bose–Einstein condensation in these systems in 1995.[2] For this achievement, as well as early fundamental studies of condensates, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2001, together with Eric Allin Cornell and Carl Wieman.[3]


  • Biography 1
  • Personal life 2
  • Publications 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


Ketterle was born in Heidelberg, Baden-Württemberg, and attended school in Eppelheim and Heidelberg.[4] In 1976 he entered the University of Heidelberg, before transferring to the Technical University of Munich two years later, where he gained the equivalent of his master's diploma in 1982.[4][5] In 1986 he earned a Ph.D in experimental molecular spectroscopy under the supervision of Herbert Walther and Hartmut Figger at the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics in Garching, before conducting postdoctoral research at Garching and the University of Heidelberg.[5] In 1990 he joined the group of David E. Pritchard in the Research Laboratory of Electronics at MIT (RLE).[4] He was appointed to the MIT physics faculty in 1993 and, since 1998, he has been John D. MacArthur Professor of Physics.[5] In 2006, he was appointed Associate Director of RLE and began serving as director of MIT's Center for Ultracold Atoms.[5]

After achieving Bose–Einstein condensation in dilute gases in 1995, his group was in 1997 able to demonstrate interference between two colliding condensates,[6] as well as the first realization of an "atom laser", the atomic analogue of an optical laser.[7] In addition to ongoing investigations of Bose–Einstein condensates in ultracold atoms, his more recent achievements have included the creation of a molecular Bose condensate in 2003,[8] as well as a 2005 experiment providing evidence for "high temperature" superfluidity in a fermionic condensate.[9]

Ketterle is also a runner featured in the December 2009 issue of Runner's World's "I'm a Runner".[10] Ketterle spoke of taking his running shoes to Stockholm when he received the Nobel Prize and happily running in the early dusk. Ketterle completed the 2013 Boston Marathon with a time of 2:49:16.[11] and in 2014, in Boston, ran a personal record of 2:44:06.

Ketterle serves on the Board of Trustees of the Center for Excellence in Education (CEE),[12] and participates in the Distinguished Lecture Series of CEE's flagship program for high school students, the Research Science Institute (RSI), which Ketterle's own son Jonas attended in 2003.

Personal life

Since 2011, Ketterle is married to Michèle Plott. He has five children, three with Gabriele Ketterle, to whom he was married from 1985 to 2001.[4]


  • K.B. Davis, M.O. Mewes, M.R. Andrews, N.J. van Druten, D.S. Durfee, D.M. Kurn, and W. Ketterle (27 November 1995). "Bose-Einstein Condensation in a Gas of Sodium Atoms". Physical Review Letters 75 (22): 3969–3973.  
  • M. R. Andrews, C. G. Townsend, H.-J. Miesner, D. S. Durfee, D. M. Kurn, and W. Ketterle (1997). "Observation of interference between two Bose condensates". Science 275 (5300): 637–641.  
  • M. O. Mewes, M. R. Andrews, D. M. Kurn, D. S. Durfee, C. G. Townsend, and W. Ketterle (27 January 1997). "Output Coupler for Bose-Einstein Condensed Atoms". Physical Review Letters 78 (4): 582–585.  
  • M. W. Zwierlein, C. A. Stan, C. H. Schunck, S. M. F. Raupach, S. Gupta, Z. Hadzibabic, and W. Ketterle (2003). "Observation of Bose-Einstein Condensation of Molecules". Physical Review Letters 91 (25): 250401.  


  1. ^ "Wolfgang Ketterle". MIT Department of Physics. Retrieved 27 October 2014. 
  2. ^ Shachtman, Tom (January 2008). "The Coldest Place in the Universe". Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved 27 October 2014. 
  3. ^ "Nobel Prize in Physics 2001". Nobel Media. Retrieved 27 October 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c d "Wolfgang Ketterle - Biographical". Nobel Media. Retrieved 27 October 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c d "Curriculum Vitae - Wolfgang Ketterle" (PDF). Alkali BEC Projects @ MIT. Retrieved 27 October 2014. 
  6. ^ "Interference of Two Condensates". Alkali BEC Projects @ MIT. Retrieved 27 October 2014. 
  7. ^ Ketterle, Wolfgang (20 November 2002). "Nobel lecture: When atoms behave as waves: Bose-Einstein condensation and the atom laser" (PDF). Reviews of Modern Physics 74: 1131–51.  
  8. ^ "Physicists perform ultracold coup over molecules". MIT News. 18 December 2003. Retrieved 27 October 2014. 
  9. ^ "High-Temperature Superfluidity". Atomic Quantum Gases @ MIT. Retrieved 27 October 2014. 
  10. ^ Doucleff, Michaeleen (3 November 2009). "I'm A Runner: Wolfgang Ketterle, Ph.D.". Runner's World. Retrieved 27 October 2014. 
  11. ^ "2013 Boston Marathon Top Finishers". Retrieved 27 October 2014. 
  12. ^ "Board of Trustees". Center for Excellence in Education. Retrieved 27 October 2014. 

External links

  • Nobel Bio
  • Ketterle at MIT
  • Ketterle at RLE
  • Video Interview
  • Text interview
  • Interview at American Scientist
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