The past few years have seen remarkable developments in the ability to control atomic motion by optical techniques. Among the key tools that have been developed for this purpose are the techniques of laser cooling, the significance of which was recognized by the award of the 1997 Nobel Prize in Physics to Steven Chu, Claude Cohen-Tannoudji, and William Phillips. These techniques have made it possible to cool atoms to temperatures lower than have been produced in any other physical system - around 10(-8) degrees Kelvin above absolute zero - and to confine those in traps for extended periods of observation.

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