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Gibble Honored with the European Frequency and Time Award

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01 August 2013

Kurt GibbleKurt Gibble, a professor of physics at Penn State University, has been honored with the 2013 European Frequency and Time Award for his research on the atomic clocks that keep international atomic time. The European Frequency and Time Forum awarded the prize to Gibble at a July 2013 conference in Prague, Czech Republic, citing "his fundamental contributions to the development of atomic fountain clocks and methods to improve their accuracy."

Gibble has made major contributions to the development of a type of highly accurate clock called an atomic fountain clock by doing experiments studying collisions between atoms, and by modeling physical effects that shift the frequency of the clocks. Gibble and his collaborators modeled the atomic interactions with microwave fields and the Doppler shifts of the slowly moving atoms in the clock. By evaluating the uncertainties of all these effects, scientists establish the accuracy of individual atomic fountain clocks. Gibble's models and numerical calculations have helped to improve the accuracy of atomic clocks in the United Kingdom and France, reducing their uncertainty to two parts in 1016, a world best.

Gibble's research on atomic fountain clocks and on the scattering of ultra-cold atoms, which occurs in these clocks, includes major projects involving Earth-based and space-based laser-cooled atomic clocks as well as fundamental studies of atomic scattering.

Gibble previously was honored in 2009 as a Research in Paris laureate by the City of Paris, France. In 2005, he was elected as a Fellow of the American Physical Society. He received a Yale Junior Faculty Fellowship in 1996 and a National Science Foundation Young Investigator Award in 1994.

Gibble earned his doctoral degree in physics at the University of Colorado in 1990 and his bachelor's degree, with highest honors, in engineering physics at Lehigh University in 1986. He was a research associate at Stanford University from 1991 to 1993 with Nobel laureate Steven Chu and then a faculty member at Yale University, where he served as assistant professor from 1993 to 1998 and as associate professor from 1998 to 2001. Gibble joined the Penn State faculty in 2001.

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