About the Center
Research at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics
concentrates on the interaction of light and matter under extreme conditions. One focus is the high-precision spectroscopy of hydrogen. In the course of these measurements Prof. Theodor W. Hänsch developed the frequency comb technique for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2005. Other experiments aim at capturing single atoms and photons and letting them interact in a controlled way, thus paving the way towards future quantum computers. Theorists on the other hand are working on strategies to communicate quantum information in a most efficient way. They develop algorithms that allow the safe encryption of secret information. MPQ scientists also investigate the bizarre properties quantum-mechanical many-body systems can take on at extremely low temperatures (about one millionth Kelvin above zero). Finally light flashes with the incredibly short duration of several attoseconds (1 as is a billionth of a billionth of a second) are generated which make it possible, for example, to observe quantum-mechanical processes in atoms such as the 'tunnelling' of electrons or atomic transitions in real time.
The Department of Physics at Harvard is large and diverse. With 10 Nobel Prize winners to its credit, the distinguished faculty of today engages in teaching and research that spans the discipline and defines its borders, and as a result Harvard is consistently one of the top-ranked physics departments in the nation.
The Department's greatest resources are the people that fill its classrooms, labs, and offices, as well as state-of-the-art facilities and an outstanding onsite Research Library
. For undergraduate concentrators, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers, Harvard features a complete range of opportunities to engage in world-class physics from theoretical to the experimental.
Research in the Department seeks to explore and explain fundamental questions that range from understanding the origin of the universe, including string theory, cosmology, and astrophysics, to understanding the visible world of colloids and the world on an ever diminishing scale, from the mesoscale to the nanoscale, condensed matter, and atomic, molecular and particle physics.