Theodor Hansch

Professor Theodor Hansch, 2005 Nobel laureate in Physics for “contributions to the development of laser-based precision spectroscopy, including the optical frequency comb technique”

Professor Hänsch is the Carl-Friedrich-von-Siemens Professor for Experimental Physics at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University,Munich, Germany, and Director at the Max-Planck-Institute of Quantum Optics in Garching, Germany.Professor Hänsch is widely known for his seminal contributions in the field of laser spectroscopy. His early work includes the first narrowband tunable dye laser, the invention of commonly used techniques of Doppler-free laser spectroscopy, and the first proposal for laser cooling of atomic gases. Since the early 1970’s, Hänsch has pursued precision spectroscopy of the simple hydrogen atom, which permits unique confrontations between experiment and fundamental theory. This work has yielded accurate values of the Rydberg constant, the Lamb shift of the hydrogen ground state, and the charge radii of proton and deuteron.

More recently, he has pioneered the revolutionary frequency comb technique for measuring the frequency of light with ultrashort pulses. Exploring the quantum physics of cold neutral atoms, Hänsch and his coworkers have realized the first two- and three-dimensional atomic lattices bound by light, they have demonstrated the first atom laser that emits a continuous beam of coherent matter waves, and they have shown how to integrate a quantum laboratory for ultracold atoms on a microfabricated “atom chip.”

With a Bose-Einstein condensate in an optical lattice potential, they have been the first to observe a quantum phase transition between a wave-like superfluid state and a particle-like Mott insulator crystal.

In 2005, Theodor W. Hänsch was awarded the Physics Nobel Prize with Roy Glauber and John L. Hall “for his contributions to the development of laser-based precision spectroscopy, including the optical frequency comb technique.”