Eric A. Cornell
The Nobel Prize in Physics 2001
Born: 19 December 1961, Palo Alto, CA, USA
Affiliation at the time of the award: University of Colorado, JILA, Boulder, CO, USA
Prize motivation: "for the achievement of Bose-Einstein condensation in dilute gases of alkali atoms, and for early fundamental studies of the properties of the condensates."
Prize share: 1/3
One of the fundamental numbers in the world of quantum mechanics is the spin quantum number. Particles and atoms that have whole-number spin are described by other rules and equations than those that have half-number spin. Satyendra Nath Bose and Albert Einstein predicted in 1924 that at very low temperatures atoms with whole-number spin would be able to concentrate themselves in the lowest energy state and form a Bose-Einstein condensate. In 1995 Eric Cornell and Carl Wieman succeeded in proving the phenomenon in a rarefied gas of rubidium atoms at an extremely low temperature.
Their work and discoveries range from cancer therapy and laser physics to developing proteins that can solve humankind’s chemical problems. The work of the 2018 Nobel Laureates also included combating war crimes, as well as integrating innovation and climate with economic growth. Find out more.