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Masters of Atom Manipulation Win Physics Prize

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Science  24 Oct 1997:
Vol. 278, Issue 5338, pp. 578
DOI: 10.1126/science.278.5338.578

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Physicists nowadays can cool, trap, bounce, and toss atoms with the facility of microscopic jugglers. That facility is due in no small part to techniques developed by three masters of atomic manipulation--Steven Chu of Stanford University, Claude Cohen-Tannoudji of the École Normale Supérieure in Paris, and William Phillips of the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, Maryland--who have been awarded the 1997 Nobel Prize in physics. Over the last decade, they showed how atoms could be chilled to millionths of a degree above absolute zero and trapped by bombarding them with beams of laser light. The work has proved invaluable for basic physics and has also led to dozens of applications. For more information on this prize, see the Nobel Foundation Web site.