Dr. Nicolaas Bloembergen

(Biography as published in commencement program 1998)

Dr. Nicolaas Bloembergen is an internationally acclaimed physicist whose honors include the 1981 Nobel Prize for Physics and the 1974 National Medal of Science.

Bloembergen is Gerhard Gade University Professor Emeritus at Harvard University, where he earned his doctorate in physics in 1951. A native of the Netherlands, Bloembergen earned degrees from the University of Utrecht and the University of Leiden before coming to the United States to study. He became a naturalized citizen in 1958.

Bloembergen shared the Nobel Prize in Physics with A.L. Schawlow for their contributions to the development of laser spectroscopy, and with K. Siegbahn for his contribution to the development of high resolution electron spectroscopy. Bloembergen’s National Medal of Science cited his pioneering applications of magnetic resonance to the study of condensed matter. He won the Alexander von Humbolt Senior U.S. Scientist Award in 1980 and 1987, and the Alexander von Humbolt Medal in 1989. His 1983 IEEE Medal of Honor recognized his “pioneering contributions to quantum electronics, including the invention of the three-level solid state maser.”

His research has included nuclear and electronic magnetic resonance, solid state masers and lasers, and especially nonlinear optics and spectroscopy. His work with colleagues in developing a rigorous theory of nonlinear polarizability led to the extension of the laws of reflection and refraction.

Bloembergen has published more than 300 papers in various scientific journals and is the author of two major monographs.

In addition to his service on the faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University for more than four decades, Bloembergen also was a visiting professor in Berkeley and Pasadena as well as in Paris, Leiden, Bangalore and Munich. He is a member of numerous academies in the United States and abroad, and has served on dozens of U.S. government, industry and academic advisory committees.

He holds honorary degrees from Harvard University, Laval University, Moscow State University, Hartford University, the University of Central Florida, the University of Massachusetts-Lowell, and the University of Connecticut.