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Peter Zoller (*)

Peter Zoller (born 16 September 1952) is a theoretical physicist from Austria. He is Professor at the University of Innsbruck and works on quantum optics and quantum information and is best known for his pioneering research on quantum computing and quantum communication and for bridging quantum optics and solid state physics.


Peter Zoller studied physics at the University of Innsbruck, obtained his doctorate there in February 1977, and became a lecturer at their Institute of Theoretical Physics. For 1978/79, he was granted a Max Kade stipend to research with Peter Lambropoulos at the University of Southern California. In 1980, he stayed in Auckland, New Zealand, as a researcher with the group around Dan Walls. In 1981, Peter Zoller handed in his book “Über die lichtstatistische Abhängigkeit resonanter Multiphoton-Prozesse” at the University of Innsbruck to qualify as a professor by receiving the “venia docendi”. He spent 1981/82 and 1988 as Visiting Fellow at the Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics (JILA) of the University of Colorado, Boulder, and 1986 as guest professor at the Université de Paris-Sud 11, Orsay. In 1991, Peter Zoller was appointed Professor of Physics and JILA Fellow at JILA and at the Physics Department of the University of Colorado, Boulder. At the end of 1994, he accepted a chair at the University of Innsbruck, where he has worked ever since. From 1995 to 1999, he headed the Institute of Theoretical Physics, from 2001 to 2004, he was vice-dean of studies. Peter Zoller continues to keep in close touch with JILA as Adjoint Fellow. Numerous guest professorships have taken him to all major centres of physics throughout the world. He was Loeb lecturer in Harvard, Boston, MA (2004), Yan Jici chair professor at the University of Science and Technology of China, Heifei, and chair professor at Tsinghua University, Beijing (2004), as well as Lorentz professor at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands (2005). Since 2003, Peter Zoller has also held the position of Scientific Director at the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information (IQOQI) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences.


As a theoretician, Peter Zoller has written major works on the interaction of laser light and atoms. In addition to fundamental developments in quantum optics he has succeeded in bridging quantum information and solid state physics. The model of a quantum computer[1], suggested by him and Ignacio Cirac in 1995, is based on the interaction of lasers with cold ions confined in an electromagnetic trap. The principles of this idea have been implemented in experiments over recent years and it is considered one of the most promising concepts for the development of a scalable quantum computer. Zoller and his researcher colleagues have also managed to link quantum physics with solid state physics. One of his suggestions has been to build a quantum simulator with cold atoms and use it to research hitherto unexplained phenomena in high temperature superconductors[2]. Zoller’s ideas and concepts attract plenty of interest within the scientific community, his works have been cited more than 18,000 times to date (2008).


Peter Zoller has received numerous awards for his achievements in the field of quantum optics and quantum information and especially for his pioneering work on quantum computers and quantum communication. These include the Dirac Medal (2006), the 6th International Quantum Communication Award (2006), the Niels Bohr/UNESCO Gold Medal (2005), the Max Planck Medal (2005) of the Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft, the Humboldt Research Award (2000), the Schrödinger Prize (1998) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, the Max Born Award (1998) of the Optical Society of America, as well as the Wittgenstein Award (1998), Austria’s highest scientific accolade. In 2001, Peter Zoller became full member of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, in 2008 he was elected to the United States National Academy of Sciences and the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.


C. W. Gardiner, P. Zoller: Quantum Noise, A Handbook of Markovian and Non-Markovian Quantum Stochastic Methods with Applications to Quantum Optics. Springer, Berlin 2004 ISBN 3-540-22301-0


  1. ^ J.I. Cirac, P. Zoller, Quantum Computations with Cold Trapped Ions, Phys. Rev. Lett. 74 20, 4091–4094 (1995)
  2. ^ D. Jaksch, C. Bruder, J.I. Cirac, C.W. Gardiner und P. Zoller, Cold Bosonic Atoms in Optical Lattices, Phys. Rev. Lett. 81, 3108 - 3111 (1998)


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