Physics World reports on the awarding of a major French prize in science:
A physicist has been awarded France's top science prize for his work on atomic physics and quantum optics. Serge Haroche -- one of the founding fathers of cavity quantum electrodynamics (QED) -- was presented with this year's "gold medal" by the French national research council (CNRS) at a press conference in Paris yesterday. Haroche currently heads the electrodynamics and simple systems group at CNRS's Kastler Brossel Lab in Paris.
Previous physics recipients include the Nobel Prize winners Albert Fert and Claude Cohen-Tannoudji, who was Haroche's PhD supervisor. "In these times of confusion and obscurity, Serge Haroche's clarity and lucidity are indeed very welcome," said CNRS president Catherine BrÃ©chignac. The gold medal is awarded annually in recognition of a lifetime's academic achievement.
France has a surprisingly high concentration of really brilliant quantum optics types-- Cohen-Tannoudji, Dalibard, Aspect-- and Haroche is right there with the best of them. He's done a number of really cool experiments involving atoms in optical cavities, pairs of mirrors facing one another. These "cavity QED" experiments dramatically change the interaction between light and atoms by allowing a single photon in the cavity to interact with an atoms many times (speaking somewhat loosely). This makes it possible to look at quantum effects involving light and matter in great detail, and Haroche has been at the forefront of this work.
So, congratulations to Serge Haroche for a well-deserved honor.