Hans G. Dehmelt
The Nobel Prize in Physics 1989
Born: 9 September 1922, Görlitz, Prussia (now Germany)
Died: 7 March 2017, Seattle, WA, USA
Affiliation at the time of the award: University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA
Prize motivation: “for the development of the ion trap technique”
Prize share: 1/4
The properties of atoms are determined by laws of quantum mechanics that say they can have only fixed energy levels and that electromagnetic radiation with certain frequencies is emitted or absorbed when there are transitions among different energy levels. Opportunities to study the properties and spectrums of atoms are improved if individual atoms can be isolated under constant conditions for longer periods. In the 1950s Hans Dehmelt developed a method for using magnetic fields to capture charged atoms—ions—in a trap.
Their work and discoveries range from the Earth’s climate and our sense of touch to efforts to safeguard freedom of expression.
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