David J. Wineland


David J. Wineland

© The Nobel Foundation. Photo: U. Montan

David J. Wineland
The Nobel Prize in Physics 2012

Born: 24 February 1944, Milwaukee, WI, USA

Affiliation at the time of the award: National Institute of Standards and Technology, Boulder, CO, USA; University of Colorado, Boulder, CO, USA

Prize motivation: “for ground-breaking experimental methods that enable measuring and manipulation of individual quantum systems”

Prize share: 1/2


David Wineland was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in the United States. He first studied at the University of California, Berkeley, and later earned his PhD from Harvard University under the supervision of Norman Ramsey. After completing his PhD, Wineland worked in a team led by Hans Dehmelt at the University of Washington in Seattle. Since 1975 he has worked at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and is also associated with the University of Colorado Boulder. He is married with two children.


When it comes to the smallest components of our universe, our usual understanding of how the world works ceases to apply. We have entered the realm of quantum physics. For a long time, many quantum phenomena could only be examined theoretically. Starting in the late 1970s, David Wineland has designed ingenious experiments to study quantum phenomena when matter and light interact. Using electric fields, Wineland has successfully captured electrically charged atoms, or ions, in a kind of trap and studied them with the help of small packets of light, or photons.

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