Nico Bloembergen

Master of Light

  • Rob Herber

Part of the Springer Biographies book series (SPRINGERBIOGS)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xx
  2. Family and Upbringing

  3. Studies

  4. From Atoms to Humans: Nuclear Magnetic Resonance and MRI

  5. Masers and Lasers

  6. Non-linear Optics, the Icing on the Cake

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 271-271
    2. Rob Herber
      Pages 273-294
    3. Rob Herber
      Pages 295-316
  7. Star Wars

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 317-317
    2. Rob Herber
      Pages 319-348
  8. Taking Things Easy

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 349-349
    2. Rob Herber
      Pages 351-380
  9. Back Matter
    Pages 381-381

About this book


This biography is a personal portrait of one of the best-known Dutch physicists, Nicolaas Bloembergen. Born in 1920 in Dordrecht, Bloembergen studied physics in Utrecht, leaving after World War II for the United States, where he became an American citizen in 1958. At Harvard University, he pioneered nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR, used in chemistry and biology for structure identification; moreover leading to MRI), laser theory and nonlinear optics. In 1978 he was awarded the Lorentz Medal for his contribution to the theory of nonlinear optics (used in fiber optics), and in 1981 he received the Nobel Prize for physics, along with Arthur Schawlow and Kai Siegbahn.

The book is based on numerous conversations with Nicolaas Bloembergen himself, his wife Deli Brink, his family, and colleagues in science. It describes his childhood and study in Bilthoven and Utrecht, the first postwar years at Harvard, the discoveries of masers and lasers, and the award of the Nobel Prize. It also delves into Bloembergen's involvement in American politics, particularly his role in Ronald Reagan's controversial "Star Wars" program.


Nico Bloembergen Biography Nobel Prize Winner Physics 1981 Nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy Magnetic resonance imaging Nuclear magnetic relaxation Laser spectroscopy Nobel prize laser spectroscopy Dutch Nobel laureates Nuclear quadrupole interactions in alloys Three-level solid state maser Interactions of picosecond and femtosecond laser pulses Pioneer nonlinear optics Strategic defense initiative Physics education during World War II Reagan's Star Wars

Authors and affiliations

  • Rob Herber
    • 1
  1. 1.Utrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands

Bibliographic information