Wolfgang Paul


Wolfgang Paul

Photo from the Nobel Foundation archive.

Wolfgang Paul
The Nobel Prize in Physics 1989

Born: 10 August 1913, Lorenzkirch, Germany

Died: 7 December 1993, Bonn, Germany

Affiliation at the time of the award: University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany

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 Wolfgang Paul developed a method for using electrical currents and electromagnetic fields to capture charged atoms—ions—in a trap.

To cite this section
MLA style: Wolfgang Paul – Facts. NobelPrize.org. Nobel Prize Outreach AB 2024. Mon. 24 Jun 2024. <https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/physics/1989/paul/facts/>

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

Nobel Prizes and laureates

Eleven laureates were awarded a Nobel Prize in 2023, for achievements that have conferred the greatest benefit to humankind. Their work and discoveries range from effective mRNA vaccines and attosecond physics to fighting against the oppression of women.

See them all presented here.

Explore prizes and laureates

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