John L. Hall was born in 1934 in Denver, Colorado, and earned his PhD.(1961) degree from Carnegie Tech (now Carnegie Mellon University). He had 44 good years of research at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), working in laser technology, opto-electronic development and precision measurement. He is now NIST Senior Fellow Emeritus, Adjoint Professor of the University of Colorado, and an Adjoint Fellow of JILA (formerly the Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics), a cooperative institute of NIST and the University of Colorado-Boulder. Known as a preeminent laser experimentalist and innovator, Dr. Hall has contributed significantly to the evolution of the laser from a laboratory curiosity into one of the fundamental tools of modern science. He is known also for his training and mentoring of new generations of inspired physicists, several now being star researchers themselves.
Hall's work has concentrated on improving the precision and accuracy with which lasers can produce a specific frequency, and the stability with which they can hold that frequency. He has helped to develop a broad range of laser advances in fields such as precision spectroscopy for physical and chemical analysis, new tests of fundamental physical "laws", measurement and redefinition of the speed of light, and other refinements in time and length metrology. These advances are represented by more than 240 publications and 11 US patents, and have been recognized by more than 20 Awards and Prizes from professional societies, and his employer. He became a member of the French LÈgion d'Honneur in 2004, and has received four Honorary degrees.
Dr. Hall was awarded the 2005 Nobel Prize in Physics, sharing this honor with Theodor W. H‰nsch of the Max-Planck-Institute (Garching) and Roy J. Glauber of Harvard University. This recognition was awarded "for their contributions to the development of laser-based precision spectroscopy, particularly the optical frequency comb technique." The optical frequency comb can rapidly measure the frequency of another laser with extraordinarily high precision, and has many broader applications in Science, Metrology and, most recently, in Diagnostic Medicine.