In 1997 Chu shared the Nobel Prize in Physics with Claude Cohen-Tannoudji and William D. Phillips for their work on cooling and trapping atoms using laser light. This technique is used in physics to alter atomic velocities by cooling temperatures in order to trap atoms in space, resulting in more precise measurements of atomic spectra and clocks.
As the new Energy Secretary Chu has been tasked with finding alternatives to fossil fuels in an attempt to ‘end US dependence on foreign oil and fight climate change’ (BBC News). As a Professor of Physics and Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of California (UC), Berkeley Chu is already well known for his advocation of combating climate change and the need for carbon-neutral renewable energy sources using scientific methods. He claims:
What the world does in the coming decade will have enormous consequences that will last for centuries [and] it is imperative that we begin without further delay (BBC News).
Below is a video of ‘Growing Energy’ from the PBS series where Chu is seen discussing some early alternatives to foreign oil.