William Phillips meets his wife-to-be Jane Van Wynen in High School. She´s later studying at Penn State University, so they have to write and call each other frequently until both graduate in 1970. They get married and move to Boston. They have two daughters, Catherine and Christine.

William Phillips is born to his parents William Cornelius Phillips and the Italian Mary Catherine Savino as the middle of three children in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.

William Phillips even though accepted at Princeton University decides to go to Massachusetts Institute of Technology studying physics. He earns his PhD with a thesis about the magnetic moment of the proton in water and an experiment to study the collisions of laser-excited atoms in 1976.

William Phillips gets a position at National Bureau of Standards (NBS), later called National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in 1978. There he measures proton gyromagnetic ratio and the Absolute Ampere.

William Phillips starts studying physics at the Juniata College in Huntigdon, as his mother and father, his aunt and his sister and brother. During this time he rebuilds an X-band electron spin resonance (ESR) spectrometer. He gains his Bachelor's degree in 1970.

William Phillips continues his work on collisions and starts researches on Bose-Einstein condensation (BEC) in spin-polarized hydrogen at MIT.

William Phillips along with Steven Chu and Claude Cohen-Tannoudji is awarded the 1997 Nobel Prize in Physics for their development of methods to cool and trap atoms with laser light.

William Phillips is appointed Professor in Physics at the University of Maryland. He works there since 1992.

William Phillips works his entire career at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), where he develops laser-cooling and the Zeeman slower (to slow a beam of atoms or molecule) together with Hal Metcalf in 1982, among other methods.

William Phillips enters the Camp Hill High School in 1960. During his High School time until 1966 he works for one summer at the University of Delaware doing sputtering experiments.