Daniel Frank Walls
|Born||Daniel Frank Walls
13 September 1942
Napier, New Zealand
|Died||12 May 1999
Auckland, New Zealand
|Thesis||Topics in Non-Linear Quantum Optics (1969)|
|Doctoral advisor||Roy J. Glauber|
|Known for||Quantum optics|
Walls gained a BSc in physics and mathematics and a first class honours MSc in physics at the University of Auckland. He then went to Harvard University as a Fulbright Scholar, obtaining his PhD in 1969, supervised by Roy J. Glauber who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2005.
Career and research
After holding postdoctoral research positions in Auckland and Stuttgart, Walls became a senior lecturer in physics at the University of Waikato in 1972, where he became professor in 1980. In 1987 he moved to the University of Auckland as professor of theoretical physics.
His major research interests centred on the interaction and similarities between light and atoms. He was notable for his wide-ranging expertise in relating theory to experiment, and was involved in all major efforts to understand non-classical light. A seminal paper by Walls with his first graduate student Howard Carmichael, showed how to create antibunched light, in which photons arrive at regular intervals, rather than randomly.
Walls was a pioneer in the study of ways that the particle-like nature of light (photons) could be controlled to make optical systems less susceptible to unwanted fluctuations, in particular by the use of squeezed light, a concept formulated by Carlton Caves. In squeezed light, some fluctuations can be made very small provided other fluctuations are correspondingly large.
He made major contributions to the theory of quantum measurement such as those involving Einstein's "which-path" experiment, and the quantum nondemolition measurement. Walls also used a simple field theoretical approach to explain and corroborate Dirac's description of photon interference and in particular Dirac's statement "that a photon interferes only with itself."
In the later stages of his career he focused his research efforts on the theoretical aspects of the newly created state of matter, the Bose–Einstein condensate (BECs). Some of his contributions in the field include the prediction of the interference signature of quantized vortices, and the collapses and revivals of the Josephson coupled BECs.
Awards and honours
Walls was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 1992, an honour bestowed on just 37 New Zealand-born scientists since the Society's establishment in 1660. Walls was also elected Fellow of numerous academic societies such as the American Physical Society and the Royal Society of New Zealand (FRSNZ). In 1995 he was awarded the Dirac Prize for theoretical physics.
Walls died of cancer in hospital in Auckland, aged 57.
- Daniel Frank Walls at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
- Knight, Peter; Milburn, Gerard J. (2015). "Daniel Frank Walls FRSNZ. 13 September 1942 — 12 May 1999". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society (Royal Society publishing) 61. doi:10.1098/rsbm.2014.0019. ISSN 0080-4606.
- J Phys B 9, 1199 (1976)
- D. F. Walls, A simple field theoretical description of photon interference, Am. J. Phys. 45, 952-956 (1977). doi:10.1119/1.10857
- "Fascination with light". The Press. 20 May 1999. p. 7.