Wolfgang Ketterle (born October 21, 1957) is a German physicist and professor of physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His research has focused on experiments that trap and cool atoms to temperatures close to absolute zero, and he led one of the first groups to realize Bose Einstein condensation in these systems in 1995. For this achievement, as well as early fundamental studies of condensates, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2001, together with Eric Allin Cornell and Carl Wieman.
Ketterle was born in Heidelberg, Germany, and attended school in Eppelheim and Heidelberg. In 1976 he entered the University of Heidelberg, before transferring to the Technical University of Munich two years later, where he gained his master's diploma in 1982. In 1986 he earned a Ph.D in experimental molecular spectroscopy under the supervision of Herbert Walther and Hartmut Figger at the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics in Garching, before conducting postdoctoral research at Garching and the University of Heidelberg. In 1990 he joined the group of David E. Pritchard at the MIT Research Laboratory of Electronics (RLE). He was appointed to the MIT physics faculty in 1993. Since 1998 he has been John D. MacArthur Professor of Physics. In 2006, he was appointed Associate Director of RLE, and began serving as director of MIT's Center for Ultracold Atoms.
After achieving Bose Einstein condensation in dilute gases in 1995, his group was in 1997 able to demonstrate interference between two colliding condensates , as well as the first realization of an "atom laser" , the atomic analogue of an optical laser. In addition to ongoing investigations of Bose-Einstein condensates in ultracold atoms, his more recent achievements have included the creation of a molecular Bose condensate in 2003 , as well as a 2005 experiment providing evidence for "high temperature" superfluidity in a fermionic condensate .