American Physical Society

Lene Hau - Physics Professor

Previous Page  |  New Search  |  Browse All

Job Info

Harvard University

Position Type:

Job skills:
Complex problem solving
Synthesizing information
Mathematical skills
Lab or instrumentation skills
Knowledge of physics principles
Modeling or simulation
Data analysis

Lene Hau's Job:
Hau is researching how to slow down or even stop light. She accomplished the feat of slowing light down to the speed of a bicycle in the fall of 1998, and managed to stop it in its tracks in 2000.

Hau's group accomplished this feat by creating a Bose-Einstein Condensate, and firing a laser into it. A Bose-Einstein Condensate is a form of matter that is formed fractions of a degree above absolute zero, the coldest temperature that can exist. When matter becomes this cold, all of the atoms blend together and start acting like a super atom. When light enters this condensate it slows down significantly. After more experimenting, they stopped it. "We can park a light pulse in the cloud for a millisecond, " Hau said. "It might sound short to you, but it's really long - long enough for light at its normal speed to travel 300 kilometers - and there's no doubt that we can get the storage times up."

Career Facts

Employer Type:

Current Location:
Cambridge, MA

Physics Degree:

Educational Information

Ph.D - Physics,  University of Aarhus,  Denmark

More about Lene Hau

Lene Hau's home page:

Direct link to Lene Hau's profile:

Lene Hau


Lene Hau was born in Denmark and attended the University of Aarhus where she earned her Ph.D. After graduation,  the Carlsberg Brewery awarded her the Carlsberg Foundation fellowship, which allowed her to study physics overseas. She looked at many programs and settled on the Rowland Institute of Science in Boston.

In 2008 she was inducted into the Royal Swedish Academy of the Sciences.