David J. Wineland PhD

Science & Medicine

David J. Wineland, Ph.D.

David Wineland is a distinguished atomic physicist widely recognized for pioneering the use of lasers to cool ions to near absolute zero. Much of his early work focused on using these techniques to develop extremely accurate time and frequency standards. His group recently demonstrated the most accurate atomic clocks to date. His work has helped lead transforming commercial applications such as the Global Positioning System and cellular communications networks, as well as new scientific applications such as precision tests of quantum mechanics, relativity, and astrophysics.

Significant accomplishments of his group include the first spectroscopy on a single atom and the first laser cooling of an atom or ion to its lowest energy state by use of sideband cooling. His mastering of ion cooling has led to advances in quantum computing that promise to introduce a type of computation that is more different from modern electronic computers than those computers are from the ancient abacus.

David received a bachelor’s degree from Berkeley and his Ph.D. from Harvard. After a postdoctoral appointment at the University of Washington, he joined the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) where he is the leader of the Ion-Storage Group in the Time and Frequency Division at Boulder, Colorado. He was named a NIST Fellow in 1988.

Dr. Wineland is the recipient of numerous awards and prizes, including the Davisson-Germer Prize of the American Physical Society, the Frederick Ives Medal of the Optical Society of America, and the Department of Commerce Silver and Gold Medals. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1992.

He has published more than 250 refereed articles, many in the most prestigious resource journals such and Science, Nature, and Physical Review Letters. He also speaks at national and international conferences on laser cooling, quantum information and quantum engineering.

Dr. Wineland continues to have a major impact on the international scientific community through training scientists at all stages of their careers. For thirty years, he has led an exceptionally productive and creative research group that has trained many dozens of students, post-doctoral fellows, and guest scientists from across the world, many of whom have gone on to lead their own highly successful programs in quantum engineering and optics.

He and his wife, Sedna, are the parents of two sons.