Nicolaas Bloembergen

Nicolaas Bloembergen

Nicolaas Bloembergen
Bloembergen in 1981
Born (1920-03-11) March 11, 1920
Dordrecht, Netherlands
Residence United States
Citizenship Netherlands
United States
Fields Applied physics
Institutions University of Arizona
Alma mater Leiden University
University of Utrecht
Doctoral advisor Edward Purcell
Other academic advisors Cornelis Jacobus Gorter
Doctoral students Peter Pershan
Michael Downer
Known for Laser spectroscopy
Notable awards Oliver E. Buckley Condensed Matter Prize (1958)
Stuart Ballantine Medal (1961)
National Medal of Science (1974)
Lorentz Medal (1978)
Nobel Prize in Physics (1981)
IEEE Medal of Honor (1983)
Dirac Medal (1983)

Nicolaas Bloembergen (born March 11, 1920) is a Dutch-American physicist and Nobel laureate.

He received his Ph.D. degree from University of Leiden under Cor Gorter in 1948; while pursuing his PhD at Harvard, Bloembergen also worked part-time as a graduate research assistant for Edward Mills Purcell at the MIT Radiation Laboratory [2]. He became a professor at Harvard University in Applied Physics.[1] He was brought up in the Protestant household.[2]

Bloembergen enrolled in 1938 at the University of Utrecht to study physics. Bloembergen left the war ravaged Netherlands in 1945 to pursue graduate studies at Harvard University. Six weeks before his arrival, Harvard Professor Edward M. Purcell (along with his graduate students Torrey and Pound) discovered nuclear magnetic resonance. Bloembergen was hired to develop a first NMR machine. While at Harvard he enjoyed classes from J. Schwinger, J. H. van Vleck, and E. C. Kemble. His thesis Nuclear Magnetic Relaxation was submitted in Leiden, where he passed qualifying criteria. After a brief postdoctoral appointment with C. J. Gorter in the Netherlands, he joined Harvard where he was named a junior fellow of Society of Fellows in 1949 and associate professor in 1951.

In 1958, he became a naturalized citizen of the United States.

He was awarded the Lorentz Medal in 1978. Bloembergen shared the 1981 Nobel Prize in Physics with Arthur Schawlow and Kai Siegbahn for their work in laser spectroscopy. Bloembergen and Schawlow investigated properties of matter undetectable without lasers. He had earlier modified the maser of Charles Townes. Bloembergen serves on the University of Arizona faculty.

Bloembergen belongs to prolific J. J. Thomson academic lineage tree, following in footsteps of other Nobel Laureates beginning with Lord Rayleigh (Physics Nobel Prize in 1904) and J. J. Thomson (Nobel 1906), and continued with Ernest Rutherford (Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1908), Owen Richardson (Physics Nobel, 1928) and finally Bloembergen's advisor, Edward Purcell (Physics Nobel 1952). Prof. Bloembergen is a member of the Board of Sponsors of The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and Honorary Editor of the Journal of Nonlinear Optical Physics & Materials.[3] His other influences included John Van Vleck (Physics Nobel 1977) and Percy Bridgman (Physics Nobel 1946).



  1. ^ "Nicolaas Bloembergen". IEEE Global History Network. IEEE. Retrieved 18 July 2011. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ World Scientific. Journal of Nonlinear Optical Physics & Materials. Journal Editorial Board.
  4. ^ "Nico Bloembergen". Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 17 July 2015. 

External links

  • Freeview video 'An Interview with Nicolaas Bloembergen' by the Vega Science Trust
  • Nicolaas Bloembergen
  • their contribution to the development of laser spectroscopy
  • Oral History interview transcript with Nicolaas Bloembergen 27 June 1983, American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library and Archives
  • Autobiography at the Nobel Prize website