Bloembergen, Nicolaas

Bloembergen, Nicolaas

(nē`kəläs blo͞om`bĕrgən, –bûrgən), 1920–2017, American physicist, b. Dordrecht, the Netherlands. Educated in the Netherlands, he began work at Harvard in 1946, first as a research assistant and later as a professor and then university professor (emeritus from 1990). He also was on the faculty of the Univ. of Arizona from 2001 until his death. Bloembergen is considered the father of nonlinear optics, which is the study of the interaction of high-intensity light, such as that generated by laserslaser
[acronym for light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation], device for the creation, amplification, and transmission of a narrow, intense beam of coherent light. The laser is sometimes referred to as an optical maser.
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, with the medium through with it passes. He shared the 1981 Nobel Prize in Physics with Arthur SchawlowSchawlow, Arthur Leonard
, 1921–99, American physicist, b. Mount Vernon, N.Y., grad. Univ. of Toronto (Ph.D. 1949). Although his research focused on optics, in particular, lasers and their use in spectroscopy, he also pursued investigations in the areas of
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 and Kai SiegbahnSiegbahn, Kai Manne Borje,
1918–2007, Swedish physicist, son of Karl Siegbahn. He earned his doctorate at the Univ. of Stockholm in 1944 and later taught at the Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm (1951–54), and the Univ. of Uppsala (1954–84).
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 for their work in laser spectroscopy. Bloembergen and Schawlow investigated matter undetectable without lasers. He had earlier modified the maser of Charles Townes, making significant advances that contributed to the development of the laser, and also did pioneering work on nuclear magnetic resonance while in graduate school. Bloembergen became a U.S. citizen in 1958.

Bloembergen, Nicolaas

(1920–  ) physicist; born in Dordrecht, Netherlands. After completing his university education at the State University of Leiden in his homeland, he came to the United States in 1946 to take up a post as a research assistant at Harvard. He returned to the State University of Leiden to take his Ph.D. (1947–48) but then came back to Harvard as a junior fellow, joining the faculty in 1951 and becoming the Gordon McKay professor of applied physics in 1951, then the Rumford Professor in 1974, and finally the Gerhard Gade University Professor in 1980. He received numerous honors for his work, including the National Medal of Science (1974). He shared the 1981 Nobel Prize in physics with the American Arthur Schawlow and the Swedish professor Kai Siegbahn. Bloembergen and Schawlow were cited for their contribution to the development of laser spectroscopy; Bloembergen's work in the field of nonlinear optics was especially crucial in explaining and then averting the problems in producing high intensity laser beams.