Lene V. Hau

Lene V. Hau

  • Mallinckrodt Professor of Physics and of Applied Physics

Profile

Lene Vestergaard Hau is the Mallinckrodt Professor of Physics and of Applied Physics and is also on the faculty of the Harvard Biophysics Program. Prior to joining the Harvard faculty in 1999, she was a senior scientist at the Rowland Institute for Science in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and holds a Ph.D. in Physics from University of Aarhus, Denmark. Hau led a team who succeeded in slowing a pulse of light to 15 miles per hour and also brought light to a stop. They took matters even further as they stopped and extinguished a light pulse in one part of space, and subsequently revived it in a different location. In the process, the light pulse is converted to a perfect matter copy that can be stored—put on the shelf—sculpted, and then turned back to light. These results represent a new paradigm for information processing.

Hau has recently embarked on a new research program at the interface of the fields of light-matter interactions, nanoscience, and molecular biology with the aim of studying protein dynamics at the single-molecule level. Her laboratory applies a combination of optical and electrophysiology methods and has recently developed a new platform, involving membrane-bound, single biological nanopores, for the trapping and probing of individual proteins. The research has applications, for example, for probing the dynamics of enzymes of importance for gene editing and photosynthesis, and for testing the efficacy of inhibitors for enzymes important in the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

Hau has contributed to a wide variety of research fields. Her Ph.D. work was in theoretical condensed matter physics and she later shifted her attention to experimental and theoretical optical and atomic physics. Her research has included studies of ultra-cold atoms and superfluid Bose-Einstein condensates, as well as channeling of high-energy electrons and positrons in single crystals with experiments at CERN and Brookhaven National Laboratory.

She is a 2001 MacArthur Fellow, and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, and the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters. She is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and of the American Physical Society and is the recipient of numerous awards, including Harvard University’s Ledlie Prize, the Ole Roemer Medal, awarded by the University of Copenhagen, and the Richtmyer Memorial Lecture Award. In 2010, she was appointed a National Security Science and Technology Faculty Fellow by the Secretary of Defense, and was named “World Dane”, thus becoming one of only three Danes to have been elected for this honor. In 2011, she was named Distinguished Alum of Aarhus University, in 2012 “Thomson Reuters Citation Laureate” in Physics by Thomson Reuters, and in 2018 was honored with The Lise Meitner Distinguished Lecture and Medal, sponsored by The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences through its Nobel Committee for Physics.

Professor Hau’s research is described on RadioLab’s “Master of the Universe.”

Contact Information

Office:229 Lyman
Email:hau@g.harvard.edu
Office Phone:(617) 496-5967
Office Fax(617) 496-0189
Lab Location:112-114 and 211-214 Cruft Hall
Assistant:Jane C. Salant
Assistant Office:Cruft 210
Assistant Phone:(617) 496-8119
Research Mgr: Sarah Lefebvre

Primary Teaching Area

Positions & Employment

Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences/Harvard Department of Physics

  • Mallinckrodt Professor of Physics and of Applied Physics

Other Experience & Professional Membership

  • Member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2009
  • Member, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, 2008
  • Member, Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters, 2002
  • Fellow, American Physical Society, 2012
  • Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2009

Honors

  • The Lise Meitner Distinguished Lecture and Medal, sponsored by The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences through its Nobel Committee for Physics, 2018
  • Thomson Reuters Citation Laureate (now Clarivate Citation Laureate), in Physics, 2012
  • First recipient of the Carlsberg Foundation’s Research Award in the Natural Sciences, selected by the Royal Danish Society of Sciences and Letters, 2011
  • Distinguished Alumna, Aarhus University, 2011
  • National Security Science and Engineering Faculty Fellowship, awarded by the US Secretary of Defense, 2010
  • World Dane, 2010
  • Ledlie Prize, 2008
  • Richtmyer Award, American Association of Physics Teachers, 2004
  • The Oe Roemer Medal, University of Copenhagen, 2001
  • MacArthur Fellow, 2001