Ignacio Cirac elected as an international member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences

Membership in the private non-profit organisation is considered a mark of excellence.

Professor Cirac, head of the Theory Division at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, has been invited to join the National Academy of Sciences as an international member. Membership in the NAS, a United States non-profit research society, is a prestigious honour, with new members elected based on outstanding contributions in their respective research fields. While the majority of members hold U.S. citizenship, up to 30 international members are elected annually. NAS members are “charged with providing independent, objective advice on matters related to science and technology”.

"It is a great honour to be elected as an international member of the NAS, which includes other great scientists such as my esteemed colleague Professor Theodor Hänsch", comments Ignacio Cirac.

Established in 1869, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences considers itself an advisor to the nation, whenever “called upon by any government department”. Currently, the NAS counts around 2.4000 members, in addition to circa 500 international members. Being elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences is regarded as one of the most distinguished honours a scientist can receive, with current and past members considered luminaries in their respective research areas. There is no application process to become a member of the National Academy of Sciences – instead, prospective candidates may be nominated exclusively by Academy members, and are invited to join the NAS only after a careful vetting process and a successful ballot at the annual meeting.

Professor Ignacio Cirac’s theoretical research on quantum computation and simulation is universally viewed as seminal. Together with Peter Zoller, he pioneered concepts of quantum computers based on ion traps, neutral atoms and other physical systems. In addition, he was the first scientist to introduce the notion of the now widely used quantum repeater and how to implement this tool experimentally using atoms and photons. The theorist’s election as an international member of the NAS is the latest of several prestigious awards to date, such as the BBVA Frontiers of Knowledge Award (2008), the Wolf Prize in Physics (2013), and the Max Planck Medal (2018). He also holds a total of nine honorary doctorates.

“I am looking forward to meeting fellow NAS members and taking part in the society’s activities”, Ignacio Cirac adds.

As a member of the National Academy of Sciences, Ignacio Cirac will be affiliated with the Section of Applied Physics, one of 31 sections in total. Professor Cirac will next attend the society’s annual meeting in April 2025 on which occasion he will officially add his signature to the Registry of Membership.


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