Nathalie Picqué wins the Grand Prix Cécile DeWitt-Morette

The experimental physicist receives the award for her substantial contributions in the field of dual-comb interferometry. The research prize is awarded annually by the French Academy of Sciences.

October 26, 2023

The Grand Prix Cécile DeWitt-Morette was established in 2019 to honour the memory of the eponymous physicist and mathematician who founded the Physics School in the les-Houches Village in the French Alps. A collaborative initiative of the École de Physique des Houches, Grenoble-Alpes University, and CFM Foundation for Research, the international award recognises scientists who have made a “remarkable” contribution to physics. The jury comprises members of the French Academy of Sciences, and the prize is awarded under the famed cupola of the Institut de France.

“I would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to all my coworkers, from talented students to exceptional post-docs to invaluable collaborators, and administrative and technical staff. This award recognises our joint efforts and I appreciate their support and collaboration along the way”, comments this year’s awardee Nathalie Picqué.

A research group leader of the Laser Spectroscopy Division at the Max-Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, Dr Nathalie Picqué has recently been appointed as Director at the Max Born Institute for Nonlinear Optics and Short-Pulse Spectroscopy and as Professor at the Humboldt University in Berlin. Nathalie Picqué’s work focuses on pushing the possibilities of laser frequency combs to new frontiers which, in particular, led to the development of a new technique for digital holography. In their official statement, the jury cites the technique of interferometry, based on frequency combs, pioneered by Nathalie Picqué and appreciates its unique capabilities in terms of resolution, spectral bandwidth, accuracy, sensitivity, speed and compactness. She received several prestigious awards, such as the Helmholtz Prize and the Falling Walls “Breakthrough of the Year” Award. She was also the first female scientist in Germany to receive an ERC Advanced Grant in atomic, molecular and optical physics.

The award ceremony took place on 17 October at the French Academy’s “Coupole”, where the ceremonial sessions and award ceremonies traditionally take place: “The members of the Académie des Sciences are all highly prominent scientists, most of whom I have long admired. The prize ceremony under the cupola of the Institut de France, an iconic institution with a rich history dating back centuries, is certainly an amazing honour and an inspiring and motivating recognition for a French national”, the awardee states.

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