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Alain Aspect

Photo of Alain Aspect

Credit: Photo Jean-François Dars

Awards & Distinctions

Nobel Laureate, Optica Fellow and Honorary Member Alain Aspect is Augustin Fresnel Professor at Institut d’Optique Graduate School, France; Professor at Ecole Polytechnique, France; Senior Fellow of the Institute of Advanced Studies and adjunct professor at City University, Hong Kong; and Distinguished scientist emeritus at CNRS, France.

Aspect earned his undergraduate degree from Ecole Normale Supérieure (ENS) Cachan and Université d'Orsay, France. He remained at Orsay for his masters and PhD theses. He has held positions at Institut d'Optique, ENS Yaoundé (Cameroon), ENS Cachan, ENS / Collège de France, and CNRS. He holds seven Honorary Doctorate degrees from institutions all over the world, including Canada, Australia, Ireland, Israel, the UK, and Hong Kong.

Alain Aspect's experimental work focuses on situations where the predictions of quantum mechanics are very far from intuition. Since his PhD thesis in 1983 (with Philippe Grangier and Jean Dalibard), the Bell’s experimental tests of inequalities demonstrated the astonishing properties of quantum entanglement and invalidated the local realistic vision of the world defended by Einstein. Later, with Grangier as his doctoral student in 1986, he experimentally demonstrated the wave particle duality for a single photon. The following year, he started work with Claude Chohen-Tannoudji on the cooling of atoms by laser under the recoil of a single photon. Since this contribution, he has switched to atom optics, where he and his group revisit landmarks in quantum optics and develop quantum simulators of disordered materials. This work has contributed to the emergence of quantum technologies, in particular quantum cryptography and quantum simulators and computers.

Aspect has been active in numerous professional societies, including Optica. He has served on the Born and Ives Award Committees, was a Traveling Lecturer, and has served on program committees. He has been an invited and plenary speaker at many Optica meetings, including the Society’s annual meeting, Frontiers in Optics.

He has published over 200 highly influential papers in international journals. More than 20 of his credits have surpassed 100 citations. He has received numerous awards and recognitions, including the 1999 Max Born Award, 2012 Herbert Walther Award, and 2013 Frederic Ives Medal/Jarus W. Quinn Prize from Optica. Other significant awards include the CNRS Gold Medal (2005), Wolf Prize in Physics (2010), the Unesco-Niels Bohr Gold Medal (2013), and the Balzan Prize in Quantum Information (2013). In 2014, he was named Officier de la Légion d'Honneur, the highest French order of merit. In 2021, he was named as an Optica Honorary Member.

On 4 October 2022, Aspect was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics, along with John F.Clauser and Anton Zeilinger, for experiments with entangled photons, establishing the violation of Bell inequalities and pioneering quantum information science. 

Selected Publications
  1. A. Aspect, E. Arimondo, R. Kaiser, N. Vansteenkiste, and C. Cohen-Tannoudji, "Laser cooling below the one-photon recoil energy by velocity-selective coherent population trapping: theoretical analysis," J. Opt. Soc. Am. B 6, 2112-2124 (1989)
  2. N. Vansteenkiste, P. Vignolo, and A. Aspect, "Optical reversibility theorems for polarization: application to remote control of polarization," J. Opt. Soc. Am. A 10, 2240-2245 (1993)
  3. A. Landragin, G. Labeyrie, C. Henkel, R. Kaiser, N. Vansteenkiste, C. I. Westbrook, and A. Aspect, "Specular versus diffuse reflection of atoms from an evanescent-wave mirror," Opt. Lett. 21, 1591-1593 (1996)
  4. C. Henkel, C. I. Westbrook, and A. Aspect, "Quantum reflection: atomic matter-wave optics in an attractive exponential potential," J. Opt. Soc. Am. B 13, 233-243 (1996)
  5. V. Savalli, G. Zs. K. Horvath, P. D. Featonby, L. Cognet, N. Westbrook, C. I. Westbrook, and A. Aspect, "Optical detection of cold atoms without spontaneous emission," Opt. Lett. 24, 1552-1554 (1999)
  6. A. Aspect, "An atomic Hong-Ou-Mandel experiment," in Latin America Optics and Photonics Conference, OSA Technical Digest (online) (Optica Publishing Group, 2014), paper LTuP.1.

Document Created: 26 Jul 2023
Last Updated: 19 Sep 2023

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