23 February 2022

Alain Aspect Named Optica Honorary Member

WASHINGTON — Optica, the society advancing optics and photonics worldwide, has named renowned physicist Alain Aspect an Optica Honorary Member. Aspect is recognized for illuminating fundamental aspects of the quantum-mechanical behavior of single photons, photon pairs and atoms and transforming our understanding of the quantum world. 

“Alain Aspect is a world leader in quantum optics and atomic physics. His contributions to the field and support of societies and organizations around the world are to be commended”, said Satoshi Kawata, Optica’s 2022 President. “Optica is proud to honor his achievements by naming him as an Honorary Member.”

Honorary Membership is the most distinguished of all Optica Member categories and is awarded by unanimous vote of the Optica Board of Directors to individuals who have made seminal contributions to the field of optics. Their number is limited to two-thousandths (2/1000) of the total membership of the Society.

Aspect conducted experiments that reveal the often anti-intuitive world of quantum mechanics. From his PhD thesis in 1983, he showed that certain states of light – so-called entangled photons –  yield measurements that cannot be explained by a local classical theory. In 1986, using single photons, he demonstrated the basic truth of the quamtum framework of physics: that the building blocks of reality behave simultaneously as waves and discrete particles. The following year, he began a collaboration with Claude Cohen-Tannoudji on the laser-cooling of atoms in the regime of single-photon recoil. Aspect and his group have since made major contributions to the foundations of Bose-Einstein condensation and atom optics, where atoms reveal their wave nature and can be focused, diffract, and interfere. His work has contributed to the emergence of quantum technologies, in particular quantum cryptography and quantum simulators and computers.

Aspect received his master’s degree and PhD from Université d'Orsay and Ecole Normale Supérieure de Cachan, France. A Distinguished Scientist Emeritus at CNRS, France, he has held positions at Ecole Normale Supérieure (ENS) de Yaoundé, Cameroon, ENS de Cachan, France, College de France and Laboratoire Kastler-Brossel, ENS de Paris. He is currently the Augustin Fresnel professor (Chaire Augustin Fresnel) at Institut d'Optique Graduate School - Université Paris-Saclay, a permanent member of the Charles Fabry Laboratory, a professor at Ecole Polytechnique / Institut Polytechnique de Paris, and a distinguished adjunct professor at ENS Paris-Saclay. 

He has been active in Optica and other international professional societies. He has published over 200 highly influential papers in international journals. He is a frequent invited and plenary speaker. He is a Fellow of Optica, the American Physical Society, and the European Optical Society. His achievements and contributions have been recognized with the Frederic Ives Medal/Jarus W. Quinn Prize, Max Born Award, and Herbert Walther Award (co-presented with DPG) from Optica. Other prestigious awards include the CNRS Gold Medal, the Wolf Prize in Physics, the Niels Bohr Gold Medal, the UNESCO-Niels Bohr Gold Medal, the Albert Einstein Medal, and the Balzan Prize in Quantum Information. In 2014, he was named Officier de la Légion d'Honneur, the highest French order of merit. He is a member of the Académie des Sciences and Académie des Technologies, and a foreign member of the Académie Royale des Sciences, des Lettres et des Beaux-Arts de Belgique (Belgium), the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei (Italy), the National Academy of Sciences (USA), the Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften (Austria), and the Royal Society (UK).

About Optica

Optica (formerly OSA), the society advancing optics and photonics worldwide, is dedicated to promoting the generation, application, archiving and dissemination of knowledge in the field. Founded in 1916, it is the leading organization for scientists, engineers, business professionals, students and others interested in the science of light. Optica’s renowned publications, meetings, online resources and in-person activities fuel discoveries, shape real-life applications and accelerate scientific, technical and educational achievement.

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