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Photograph of William Daniel Phillips

William Daniel Phillips (born November 5, 1948 in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania) is an American physicist. He is of Italian and Welsh extraction with a Methodism background.

Phillip's parents moved to Camp Hill (near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania) in 1959, where he attended high school. He graduated from Juniata College in 1970 summa cum laude. After that he received his physics doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

His doctoral thesis concerned magnetic moment of the proton in H2O. This led to connections that would be important later in his research. He later did some work with Bose-Einstein condensate. In 1997 he won the Nobel Prize in Physics (together with Claude Cohen-Tannoudjii and Steven Chu) for his contributions to laser cooling, a technique to slow the movement of gaseous atoms in order to better study them, at the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

He is also a professor of physics at University of Maryland, College Park.

Personal details

He married Jane Van Wynen shortly before he went to MIT. Although neither had been regular churchgoers early in their marriage in 1979 they joined the Fairhaven United Methodist Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland because they appreciated its diversity. He is a founding member of the International Society for Science & Religion. He and his his wife have two daughters; Caitlin Phillips (b 1979) who founded Rebound Designs, and Christine Phillips (b 1981) who is studying in the UK to be an archaeologist .

Big Think Interview With William Phillips


  • Curriculum Vitae from NIST.
  • development of methods to cool and trap atoms with laser light.
  • Phillips, William D

Physics Encyclopedia

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