Nicolaas Bloembergen


Nicolaas Bloembergen

Photo from the Nobel Foundation archive.

Nicolaas Bloembergen
The Nobel Prize in Physics 1981

Born: 11 March 1920, Dordrecht, the Netherlands

Died: 5 September 2017, Tucson, AZ, USA

Affiliation at the time of the award: Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA

Prize motivation: “for their contribution to the development of laser spectroscopy”

Prize share: 1/4


Electrons in atoms and molecules have fixed energy levels, according to the principles of quantum physics. When there are transitions among different energy levels, light with certain frequencies is emitted or absorbed. This allows atoms and molecules to be analyzed with the help of the absorbed light’s spectrum. In the 1960s Nicolaas Bloembergen used laser light, which has waves in phase and of the same wavelength, to determine energy levels with great precision. By coordinating three laser waves, a fourth laser wave was created, and a larger part of the spectrum could be covered.

To cite this section
MLA style: Nicolaas Bloembergen – Facts. Nobel Prize Outreach AB 2023. Sat. 30 Sep 2023. <>

Back to top Back To Top Takes users back to the top of the page

Watch the 2023 Nobel Prize announcements

Don't miss the Nobel Prize announcements 2-9 October!

Watch the live stream of the announcements.

Explore prizes and laureates

Look for popular awards and laureates in different fields, and discover the history of the Nobel Prize.