Stern Gerlach Medal for Immanuel Bloch

The award, conferred annually by the German Physical Society, honours the MPQ Director’s pioneering research on quantum simulations

November 21, 2023

Immanuel Bloch, Scientific Director at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (MPQ) and Chairholder at the Ludwig Maximilian University (LMU) Munich, has been awarded the prestigious Stern Gerlach Medal from the German Physical Society (DPG). The award – the highest accolade issued by the DPG for achievements in the field of experimental physics – recognises his ground-breaking research on quantum simulations with ultracold atoms in optical lattices. The German Physical Society will officially present the award during its annual conference in March 2024.

MPQ Director Immanuel Bloch is considered a world-leading pioneer in the field of quantum simulations: his experimental work with ultracold atoms and optical lattices has led the way to a new interdisciplinary field of quantum physics that – according to the jury’s official statement – “combines theoretical many-body physics of strongly correlated systems and fundamental concepts of quantum information science with the understanding of atomic and molecular interactions and experimental techniques from quantum optics."

“I am very honoured to receive the prestigious Stern Gerlach Medal 2024 from the German Physical Society, named after two scientific heroes in the world of quantum physics. Otto Stern and Walther Gerlach pioneered the manipulation of elementary spins – techniques we still use today in many of our experiments,” comments awardee Immanuel Bloch.

At the core of Immanuel Bloch’s pioneering experimental work are so-called optical lattices – laser beams arranged into artificial crystals of light – in which ultracold atoms are trapped, observed and manipulated. While the optical lattices simulate the structure of solid-state materials, the trapped atoms mimic the behaviour of electrons in a solid state. With these complex model systems for condensed matter physics and beyond, Immanuel Bloch has been able to precisely measure and analyse the properties of quantum many body systems in completely new ways – a ground-breaking development for the field of quantum simulation.

“Many thanks also to my whole team, all members of MPQ and everybody I have been working with on this exciting scientific endeavour in quantum simulation over the past 25 years,” Immanuel Bloch further adds. Along with the Max Planck Medal for theoretical physics, the Stern Gerlach Medal is the highest award of the German Physical Society. The official award ceremony will take place in 2024 during the DPG’s annual conference. Congratulations!

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