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Hänsch Prize in Quantum Optics

Be recognized for excellence in quantum research.

Application Dates
03 Jan 2024 - 08 Mar 2024
Program Prize

US$20,000 stipend and travel expenses to be recognized at Quantum 2.0

The Theodor W. Hänsch Prize in Quantum Optics provides recognition and funding for early-career professionals engaged in exciting and innovative projects that have the potential to make a meaningful and positive impact on the science and applications of optics-enabled quantum technologies.

Created in partnership with donors Hamamatsu Photonics, MenloSystems, and Thorlabs, the goal is to support individuals in the area of quantum optics and photonics for the purpose of providing dynamic and rigorous research with an approach to solving complex, theoretical or real-world problems. Recipients will be granted total research freedom with consideration being given to the following:

  1. Work focused on advancing basic research
  2. Efforts focused on transitioning an idea into a commercial innovation

Application Information

How To Apply

Applications will be available at

Important Dates

Opens 03 January 2024
Closes 08 March 2024

Applicant Requirements
  • Must be an Optica member.
  • Must be an early-career professional (1-5 Years post highest degree) pursuing a compelling project that has a meaningful global impact.
  • Demonstrate the unique nature and global reach of the project.
  • Conducting research in the areas of quantum optics.
    • Examples of some, but not all, various eligible disciplines within quantum optics: optical systems, metrology, cryptography and keys, computing, single-photon emitters, low-noise photodetectors, optical traps, cold atoms.

Program requirements recognize and exclude breaks from career timelines (e.g., eldercare; maternity or paternity leave; inability to work due to Covid-19 and lab closures; long-term illness). 

Application Requirements
  • Applicant name, institution and contact information
  • Applicant CV/Resume* - no more than four (4) pages
  • Proposal* covering:
    • Current research and the intended goals
    • Potential impact of your project to advance the field of quantum optics
    • Potential for your research to solve real-world challenges and/or have a global impact
    • An overview of how the US$20,000 prize would benefit your research and career
    • Proposals should be no more than two (2) pages
  • One (1) example of published work 
  • Two (2) references

*These documents must adhere to the following formatting requirements.

Formatting Requirements

  1. Paper size should comply with the international standard of A4 (8.3" x 11.7"; 210mmx297mm)
  2. Arial, Times New Roman or Courier New at a font size of 11 points or larger
  3. A font size of less than 11 points may be used for mathematical formulas or equations, figures, table or diagram captions and when using a Symbol font to insert Greek letters or special characters
  4. Margins, in all directions, must be at least 1" (2.54cm)
  5. Use a standard single-column format for text
  6. Regardless of font, readability is vital

If you have questions, please contact


Raghavendra Srinivas
Raghavendra Srinivas
University of Oxford, UK
for his work to create and manipulate nonclassical states of trapped ions.
Victoria Xu
Victoria Xu
MIT Kavli Institute - LIGO Laboratory, USA
for her contributions in using quantum optics to fundamentally improve metrology through large-scale interferometers and advance gravitational wave detection.



About the Endowment

The prize honors the extraordinary contributions of Theodor W. Hänsch, Director of the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics. A native of Germany, Hänsch earned his Ph.D. in Laser Physics from the Ruprecht Karl University of Heidelberg and, soon after, became a professor at Stanford University. In 1986, he was awarded the Albert A. Michelson Medal from the Franklin Institute and chose to return to Germany as to direct the Max Planck Institute, where he continues to serve as Director as well as a Carl Friedrich von Siemens Professor at the Ludwig Maximilians University.

Theodor Hänsch is known for his seminal contributions in the field of laser spectroscopy. In 2001, he and two of his PhDs began Menlo Systems as a spin-off of the Max-Plack Institute and, in 2005, he shared one-half of the Nobel Prize in Physics for contributions to the development of laser-based precision spectroscopy, including the optical frequency comb technique. Throughout his career, he has received many awards, including Optica's William F. Meggers Award and Frederic Ives Medal/Jarus W. Quinn Prize. He has given more than a lifetime’s worth of dedication and achievements to physics, lasers and photonics. He remains an inspiration to everyone who calls him friend, colleague, boss or mentor.

2024 Selection Committee

Name Affiliation Country
Eleni Diamanti CNRS FRANCE
Yaseera Ismail University of Stellenbosch SOUTH AFRICA
Huanqian Loh National University of Singapore SINGAPORE
Michael Mei Menlo Systems GmbH GERMANY
Paolo Alberto Nussenzveig Universidade de Sao Paulo BRAZIL
Michael Totzeck Carl Zeiss AG GERMANY
Zhiliang Yuan Beijing Academy of Quantum Info Sciences CHINA
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