(born May 6, 1875, Hampton, Iowa, U.S.—died July 20, 1959, Bethesda, Md.) U.S. naval officer. After graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy, he served in the Spanish-American War, the Philippine insurrection, and the Boxer Rebellion. He commanded a navy transport during World War I, when he began a friendship with Franklin D. Roosevelt, then assistant secretary of the navy. He served as chief of naval operations (1937–39), as governor of Puerto Rico (1939), and as U.S. ambassador to France (1940). He was Roosevelt's chief of staff during World War II and continued in that post under Harry S. Truman. He was made a fleet admiral in 1944.
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Phillips' doctoral thesis concerned magnetic moment of the proton in H2O. This led to connections that would be important later in his research. He later did some work with Bose-Einstein condensate. In 1997 he won the Nobel Prize in Physics (together with Claude Cohen-Tannoudji and Steven Chu) for his contributions to laser cooling, a technique to slow the movement of gaseous atoms in order to better study them, at the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
Phillips is also a professor of physics at University of Maryland, College Park.
During a seminar at the UMCP Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry titled Coherent Atoms in Optical Lattices Phillips stated, "Rubidium is God's gift to Bose-Einstein condensates."