Steven Chu

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Steven Chu in 2009

Steven Chu (born February 28, 1948) is an American physicist who served as the 12th United States Secretary of Energy from 2009 to 2013. Chu is known for his research at Bell Labs in cooling and trapping of atoms with laser light, which won him the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1997, along with his scientific colleagues Claude Cohen-Tannoudji and William Daniel Phillips..


  • The atoms become like a moth, seeking out the region of higher laser intensity.
    • As quoted by James Gleick in Lasers slow atom for scrutiny, The New York Times, July 13, 1986: Explaining how atoms are cooled.
  • I'm the least-educated person in my immediate family. My two other brothers have multiple advanced degrees, and I only have one. [...] Actually, now that I've got a Nobel Prize, I feel equal.
  • I called my mother up when they announced the Nobel Prize, waiting until 7 in the morning. She said, “That’s nice — and when are you going to see me next?”
    • NY Times, April 16, 2009 [2]

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