Alain ASPECT, senior research director at the CNRS, was awarded the prestigious Albert-Einstein Medal by the company of the same name. This annual reward goes to persons deemed to have rendered exceptional services that have a connection with Albert Einstein’s work and career.
Alain ASPECT is titular professor at the Institut d'Optique’s <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:PlaceName w:st="on">Graduate</st1:PlaceName> <st1:PlaceType w:st="on">School</st1:PlaceType></st1:place> and at Ecole Polytechnique. He coordinates the research programme of the Atomic Optics Group at the Charles Fabry Laboratory at Palaiseau (Institut d'Optique Graduate School/CNRS/Université Paris-Sud).
Après Thibault DAMOUR, Member of the French Académie des sciences in 1996, Prof ASPECT is the second French national to receive this distinction “in recognition of his outstanding contributions to quantum physics, and in particular his experimental tests on Bell inequality phenomena”. Following in the footsteps of Adam RIEZ and Saul PERLMUTTER last year (who went on to receive the Nobel prize for physics in 2011), Alain ASPECT is one of the very rare experimental scientists to receive this Medal, and in this sense he succeeds a long lineage of theoretical physicists, stretching back to Stephen HAWKING who was awarded the first Medal in 1979.
He began his research in 1974 on an experimental demonstration of the Einstein – Podolsky – Rosen and it is this part of his career that led to the attribution of the Albert-Einstein Medal : his PhD, gained in 1983, was on this theme. His work at the Institut d'Optique <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:PlaceName w:st="on">Graduate</st1:PlaceName> <st1:PlaceType w:st="on">School</st1:PlaceType></st1:place> with his research collaborators confirmed the revolutionary characteristic of the quantum intrication, for which Einstein had had an intuition and the experimental evidence was possible due to theoretical work by John Bell. This work opened the way to research on quantum cryptography and quantum computation.
Among other pioneer work by Alain ASPECT, we can cite research on laser cooling of atoms conducted with Prof. Claude COHEN-TANNOUDJI at the Ecole Normale Supérieure de Paris, between 1985 and 1992, and his current thematics on Bose-Einstein condensates, atom lasers and quantum simulators.
Alain ASPECT not only received the CNRS’s highest distinction Gold Medal (in 2005), but many other distinctions such as the "Quantum Optics Senior Prize" of the European Physics Society in 2009, the Wolf Prize in 2010 and recently the Herbert Walther Prize and a nomination among the Thomson Reuters Citation Laureates in Physics. Prof. ASPECT is a founder Fellow of NATF, Member of the French Académie des sciences, Member of the National Academy of Sciences (<st1:country-region w:st="on">USA</st1:country-region>) and the <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:PlaceName w:st="on">Austrian</st1:PlaceName> <st1:PlaceType w:st="on">Academy</st1:PlaceType></st1:place> of Sciences.
Born in Agen in 1947, Alain Aspect is Father of two children.