Honorary fellows: Dr Steven Chu

United States Department of Energy.

Dr Steven Chu is a world renowned scientist and leader who was co-recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1997. He has made seminal contributions to numerous areas of physics as well as bioscience. He was recently entrusted with the critical post of US Secretary of Energy by President Barack Obama. Previously, he served as the Director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and as a Professor of Physics and Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of California, Berkeley.

Dr Chu’s scientific work has changed the way we perform atomic physics experiments. He introduced laser methods to slow the motion of atoms from the speed of a supersonic jet plane to the speed of a walking ant, thereby cooling the atoms to just a few thousandths of a degree above absolute zero. Once cooled to these temperatures, he and his colleagues showed how the atoms could be trapped with laser light. He also showed how individual bio-molecules such as DNA could be held and visualized with optical traps. Laboratories around the world today use these methods, and this work has led to improved atomic clocks, highly sensitive sensors of acceleration and rotation, tests of fundamental principles of physics, the creation of model systems to study condensed matter physics, measurements of fundamental constants, biological studies at the single-molecule level, and the route to realise the Bose-Einstein condensation.