Bose-Einstein pioneer Peter Engels elected APS fellow

By Will Ferguson, College of Arts & Sciences

Engels-80PULLMAN, Wash. – Peter Engels, professor of physics and astronomy, has been elected a fellow of the American Physical Society in recognition of his pioneering work studying Bose-Einstein condensates – clouds of atoms laser-cooled to the point where they behave like one wave instead of discrete particles.

“This recognition bears testimony to Washington State University’s strengths in physics and in the fundamental sciences in general, which form the basis for strong research endeavors at WSU,” Engels said.

His research is advancing fundamental understanding of the laws of quantum physics. This could eventually help in the development of ultrapowerful quantum computers and a wide variety of advanced sensors for taking measurements of quantities such as gravity, rotations and magnetic fields.

“Dr. Engels was the first to create a Bose-Einstein condensate in the Inland and Pacific Northwest in 2006, soon after he joined our university,” said Sukanta Bose, interim chair and professor of physics and astronomy. “We are proud that the American Physical Society has accorded him this prestigious honor for the path-breaking studies he has carried out at WSU.”

Engels’ undergraduate and graduate students benefit from his hands-on approach to instruction and are regularly honored with prestigious recognitions like the Fulbright Award and the Leon J. and Barbara W. Radziemski Graduate Fellowship in the Sciences. He teaches introductory and graduate level courses in quantum mechanics.

APS fellowship is limited to no more than one half of one percent of the membership. Engels was recommended for fellowship by his peers in the division of atomic, molecular and optical physics. His official citation is “for pioneering experimental studies in superfluid hydrodynamics and other work in Bose-Einstein condensation.”