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Optics pioneers honored in EPS prize awards

17 Jun 2002

LASER 2001 update: the winners of this year’s CLEO Europe/EQEC 2001 prizes have been revealed.

The Quantum Electronics and Optics division of the European Physical Society (EPS) has awarded this year’s prizes – four in total – to experts in laser spectroscopy and quantum optics. The awards pay particular attention to recent, fundamental advances in measuring the frequency of light to great accuracy.

Prof. Theodor Haensch of the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics in Garching, Germany won the Quantum Electronics and Optics prize for fundamental research. Prof. Algis Piskarskas of Villinius University in Lithuania won the Quantum Electronics and Optics prize for applied research.

This prize recognizes outstanding contributions that have created a major impact in the fields of quantum electronics, lasers and photonics. Haensch is rewarded for his innovative work in laser spectroscopy, especially precision spectroscopy of hydrogen. Piskarskas receives the award on the basis of his pioneering research and development of ultra-short, pulsed light sources based on optical-parametric generation and oscillation.

The Fresnel prize was also presented at the ceremony. This is awarded to scientists under the age of 35 for noteworthy contributions to optics, quantum electronics or quantum optics in the experimental, theoretical or technological areas. This year it went to Dr Konrad Banaszek for fundamental research and Dr Ronald Holzwarth for applied work.

Banaszek, at the Centre for Quantum Computation at the UK’s University of Oxford, was selected for his outstanding contributions to our understanding of non-classical light and its application in the quantum information process. Holzwarth, from the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics in Garching, Germany, is recognized for a revolutionary new technology for measuring the frequency of light with extreme precision: a single, compact, mode-locked, femtosecond laser.

After the ceremony, Haensch – who works with Holzwarth, and whose laser spectroscopy research contributed to the development of the technique for measuring the frequency of light – delivered a plenary talk outlining the path leading to the breakthrough.

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