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Hans G. Dehmelt

Hans G. DehmeltAKA Hans Georg Dehmelt

Born: 9-Sep-1922
Birthplace: Görlitz, Germany

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Physicist
Party Affiliation: Republican

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Co-Inventor of the ion trap

Military service: German Army (1940-46)

In his late 20s, Hans G. Dehmelt fought for his native Germany during World War II, and was taken prisoner of war at the Battle of the Bulge in early 1945. After the war he came to America, where he taught at the University of Washington and worked for years on the seemingly impossible task of containing charged particles for extended study. In 1973, after nearly two decades of effort and experiment, he demonstrated a device that imposes an electrical field over a magnetic field to trap electrically charged atoms (ions) and electrons for indefinite storage. Dehmelt said that his invention was inspired by the principles of a vacuum gauge designed by Dutch physicist Frans Michel Penning (1894-1953), which is why Dehmelt called his invention a Penning trap. Studies conducted with Dehmelt's Penning trap led scientists to adjust their estimates of an electron's size by a factor of 10,000. He said that he "felt like dancing" when he was honored with the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1989, and that he spent the accompanying cash stipend "in the appropriate fashion". His Nobel honor was shared with Wolfgang Paul and Norman F. Ramsey.

Father: Georg Dehmelt (attorney)
Wife: Irmgard Lassow (d., one son)
Son: Gerd Dehmelt
Wife: Diana Dundore (physician)

    High School: Evangelischen Gymnasiums zum Grauen Kloster, Berlin (1940)
    University: University of Wroclaw (attended 1943, under German Army)
    University: BS, University of Göttingen (1948)
    University: PhD, University of Göttingen (1950)
    Scholar: Duke University (1952-55)
    Teacher: University of Washington (1955-61)
    Professor: University of Washington (1961-)

    APS Davisson-Germer Prize in Atomic or Surface Physics 1970
    Rumford Prize 1985
    Nobel Prize for Physics 1989 (with Wolfgang Paul and Norman F. Ramsey)
    National Medal of Science 1995
    National Republican Congressional Committee
    Taken Prisoner of War 1945 (Battle of the Bulge)
    German Ancestry
    Naturalized US Citizen 1961


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