Lene Vestergaard Hau is the Mallinckrodt Professor of Physics and of Applied Physics at Harvard University. Prior to joining the Harvard faculty in 1999, she was a member of the scientific staff at the Rowland Institute for Science at Harvard in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She earned a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Aarhus, Denmark.
Hau led a team who succeeded in slowing a beam of light to 17 meters per second and ultimately bringing light to a stop. More recently, they managed to extinguish a light pulse in one part of space and subsequently revive it from a completely different location. Her formalized training is in theoretical solid state physics and she has worked in the fields of experimental and theoretical optical, atomic, and condensed matter physics. Her research has spanned studies of ultra-cold atoms and superfluid Bose-Einstein condensates, as well as channeling of high-energy, relativistic electrons and positrons in single crystals. The latter has involved the development of channeling radiation as a solid state probe of valence-electron and spin-magnetic densities and has included experiments at CERN, Brookhaven National Laboratory, and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
She 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, and is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She is a recipient of numerous awards, including the MacArthur Fellowship "genius grant," the George Ledlie Prize—Harvard University's top faculty award, and the Ole Roemer Medal.