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Steven Chu, Former Director,
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

IMAGE: Steve Chu Photo by Linda A. Cicero/ Stanford News Service

Steven Chu is the former director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and a professor of Physics and Cellular and Molecular Biology of the University of California, Berkeley. Previously, he held positions at Stanford University and AT&T Bell Laboratories.

Professor Chu's research in atomic physics, quantum electronics, polymer and biophysics include tests of fundamental theories in physics, the development of methods to laser cool and trap atoms, atom interferometry, and the manipulation and study of polymers and biological systems at the single molecule level.

While at Stanford, he helped start Bio-X, a multi-disciplinary initiative that brings together the physical and biological sciences with engineering and medicine. Chu has received numerous awards, including co-winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics (1997). He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Academia Sinica, and is a foreign member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Korean Academy of Science and Engineering.

Chu also serves on the Boards of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the University of Rochester, NVIDIA, and the (planned) Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology. He has served on numerous advisory committees, including the Executive Committee of the National Academy of Sciences Board on Physics and Astronomy, the National Institutes of Health Advisory Committee to the Director, and the National Nuclear Security Administration Advisory Committee to the Director.

Professor Chu received A.B. degrees in mathematics and physics from the University of Rochester, a Ph.D. in physics from the University of California, Berkeley, and a number of honorary degrees.

The 1997 Nobel Prize in Physics

Nobel medal image

Steven Chu shared the 1997 Nobel Prize in Physics for "development of methods to cool and trap atoms with laser light." More >>


Steven Chu's Nobel autobiography
Chu's Nobel Lecture (.pdf)
Receiving the Nobel Prize

IMAGE: Steven Chu in the lab Photo by Linda A. Cicero/ Stanford News Service


To Catch an Atom

If you ever get the feeling that life is a blur, maybe it’s because the atoms that make up the world around us are always moving at speeds faster than those of supersonic jet planes (about 4,000 kilometers per hour). By cooling an atom down to a temperature of nearly absolute zero (-273 degrees Celsius), you can slow its movement to a crawl and then use light to trap and manipulate it. That’s what physicist Steven Chu, the new director of Berkeley Lab, did to win a share of the 1997 Nobel Prize in physics. Continued >>