Prizes & Awards

Prof. Masahito Ueda Receives the 2008 Nishina Memorial Prize

  • F. Shimizu (Professor Emeritus of the University of Tokyo)
Figure 1

Prof. Masahito Ueda

The Nishina Memorial Prize was established in 1955 as one of the main projects of the Nishina Memorial Foundation which was founded to commemorate Dr. Yoshio Nishina's achievements in Nuclear Physics and his outstanding contribution to the establishment of the study of basic physics in Japan. The Prize is the oldest and the most prestigious physics award in Japan. Prof. Masahito Ueda, professor at the Department of Physics, has been awarded the 2008 Nishina Memorial Prize.

After completing his MSc at the Department of Physics of the University of Tokyo, Prof. Ueda joined the R&D Laboratory of NTT Corporation as a researcher. After that, he worked at Hiroshima University and Tokyo Institute of Technology. Since March this year, he has been working as a professor at the Department of Physics of the University.

Prof. Ueda is a theoretical physicist who has made an outstanding contribution to the quantum optics field. When a Bose-Einstein Condensate (BEC) of atoms was realized in 1994, he gave attention to its various physical possibilities and was quick to work on its theoretical study, which enabled him to make a large number of achievements. Among his achievements, he was chosen for the prize for his work on dynamics of BEC made by Bose particles with attractive interaction. Since the homogeneous gas of attractive interaction contracts when lowering the temperature, it was theoretically believed that the gas does not form a BEC. A BEC of atoms is a phenomenon caused by a finite number of particles and trapped in a small space by an external potential. In a system like this, a stable BEC is formed when the number of particles is small because the attractive force is balanced with the zero-point pressure arising from the quantum fluctuation. When the number of particles is large, the attractive force wins, and the BEC collapses. The collapsing process is accompanied by a dramatic evolution of the system, and its dynamics shows characteristic behavior depending on the kind of BEC. Prof. Ueda clarified the dynamics of the BEC under attractive interaction through innovative theoretical analysis and the quantitative comparison with numerical calculations and experiments.

Prof. Ueda, currently the director of the Microscopic Quantum Control Project of ERATO (Exploratory Research for Advanced Technology), JST (Japan Science and Technology Agency), organized a BEC researchers team dominated by experimentalists and has made efforts to promote the weak BEC research in Japan. Prof. Ueda is worth admiration for his sincere efforts for physics research as well as his endeavor to pursue the development of the whole research community.

With my heartiest congratulations to Prof. Ueda, I look forward to his continuing contribution to research on macroscopic quantum systems in Japan.

Title of the Prize: For the theoretical study of Bose-Einstein Condensate of gravitation-interactive atomic gas