Daniel Kleppner

Lester Wolfe Professor of Physics, Emeritus
With his colleague Thomas Greytak, he helped to pioneer the field of Bose-Einstein condensation and quantum gasses.
Research Areas

Research Interests

AMO Physics: high precision measurements, atomic clocks, Rydberg Atoms, Cavity Quantum Electrodynamics, BECin Hydrogen

Can Einstein’s general relativity be used for practical purposes? How accurate are the time measurements with current technologies? Professor of Physics at MIT Daniel Kleppner explains how to measure height using only a clock.
Courtesy of Serious Science | YouTube

Biographical Sketch

Kleppner’s research interests include precision measurements, fundamental constants and experimental studies with Rydberg atoms including cavity quantum electrodynamics and quantum chaos. With his colleague Thomas J. Greytak he helped to pioneer the field of Bose-Einstein condensation and quantum gasses. They succeeded in demonstrating Bose-Einstein condensation in atomic hydrogen in 1998.

With his colleagues, he founded the MIT-Harvard Center for Ultracold Atoms in 2002. In his teaching activities, Kleppner started a high-level mechanics course for gifted freshmen that became a permanent part of the physics curriculum. He and his colleague Robert J. Kolenkow wrote a textbook for that course in 1973, An Introduction to Mechanics, which has recently come out in a second edition.

MIT150 Infinite History interview

Awards & Honors

  • 2017 // APS Medal for Exceptional Achievement in Research "For seminal research setting the direction for modern atomic, molecular, and optical physics, including precision measurements with hydrogen masers, the physics of Rydberg atoms and their quantum chaotic behavior in high fields, cavity quantum electrodynamics, and the production of quantum degenerate atomic gases."
  • 2014 // Benjamin Franklin Medal in Physics "For many pioneering contributions to discoveries of novel quantum phenomena involving the interaction of atoms with electromagnetic fields and the behavior of atoms at ultra-low temperatures."
  • 2007 // Frederic Ives Medal (OSA) "For sustained innovation, discovery and leadership in the interaction of radiation with atoms and for his service and general educational activities."
  • 2007 // American Philosophical Society Member
  • 2006 // National Medal of Science
  • 2005 // Wolf Foundation Prize in Physics “for groundbreaking work in atomic physics of hydrogenic systems, including research on the hydrogen maser, Rydberg atoms and Bose-Einstein condensation.
  • 2005 // Leo Szilard Lectureship Award (APS) (along with other members of the APS Study Group on Boost-Phase Intercept Systems for National Missile Defense)
  • 2002 // Academy of Sciences of the Institute of France Member
  • 2002 // Robertson Memorial Lecture of the National Academy of Sciences
  • 1997 // Oersted Medal (AAPT) "The Cat and the Moon," Phys. Teach.35, 262 (1997).
  • 1991 // Julius Edgar Lilienfeld Prize (APS) "For his contributions to the development of the atomic hydrogen maser and other techniques for precise spectroscopy of neutral atoms, and for the clarity of his expositions of the physics involved."
  • 1991 // William F. Meggers Award (OSA) "For his outstanding contributions to spectroscopy, including development of the hydrogen maser, spectroscopy of Rydberg states, and analysis of the interaction of atoms with electromagnetic fields."
  • 1986 // Davisson-Germer Prize in Atomic or Surface Physics (APS) "For his innovative and pioneering studies of the fundamental properties of Rydberg atoms and their interactions with electro-magnetic fields."
  • 1986 // National Academy of Sciences Member
  • 1978 // American Physical Society Fellow

Key Publications

  • Bose-Einstein Condensation of Atomic Hydrogen, Phys. Rev. Lett. 81, 3811 (1998), Fried, DG; Killian, TC, Willmann, L; Landhuis, D; Moss, SC; Greytak, TJ; Kleppner, D.

  • Evaporative Cooling of Spin-Polarized Atomic Hydrogen, Phys. Rev. Lett. 61, 935 (1988), Masuhara, N; Doyle, JM; Sandberg, JC; Kleppner, D; Greytak, TJ; Hess, HF; Kochanski, GP.

  • D. Kleppner, “The Yin and Yang of Hydrogen”. Physics Today, April 1991, pg. 11.