Nathalie Picqué wins the William F. Meggers Award

The physicist receives the Optica prize for “pioneering broadband molecular spectroscopy with interfering frequency combs”.

Nathalie Picqué has been honoured with the 2024 William F. Meggers Award. The experimental physicist receives the distinction for her state-of-the-art research in molecular spectroscopy with interfering frequency combs. Named in honour of the eponymous scientist’s contributions to spectroscopy and metrology, the William F. Meggers award was established in 1970 by Optica (previously known as the Optical Society of America). Recipients of the William F. Meggers Award include, among others, Nobel laureates David J. Wineland, Pierre Agostini, and Nathalie Picqué’s close colleague and MPQ Director Theodor Hänsch. The prize was officially awarded to her on 7 May 2024 at the CLEO Conference in Charlotte, USA.

"I am extremely honoured to receive this award, which recognises the contributions of the many students, postdocs and colleagues I have worked with over the years," said Picqué. "When I envisioned the first experiments in broadband frequency comb spectroscopy 25 years ago, I had no idea of the breadth of insights and applications it would enable. New discoveries and innovations continue to be made, and with the growing community in the field, it has become even more exciting and fun".

Nathalie Picqué is an internationally renowned scientist in the field of laser science and spectroscopy. In particular, she developed new ways to apply spectroscopy over broad spectral bandwidths with optical frequency combs, including dual-comb spectroscopy and Fourier-transform spectroscopy with a laser frequency comb. She showed how to interrogate and analyse broadband molecular spectra with thousands or millions of comb lines simultaneously: Her dual-comb interferometers without moving parts perform direct frequency measurements over a wide span, with no geometric limitations to resolution.

"Our research in and with dual-comb interferometry remains at the heart of our activities and includes projects such as extending the technology of laser frequency combs, exploring new physics by pushing the limits of precision laser spectroscopy of simple molecules, investigating new approaches to nonlinear ultrafast spectroscopy and new insights in interferometry and imaging, and miniaturising our interferometers using nanofabricated integrated optics," added Nathalie Picqué.

The physicist recently joined the Max Born Institute for Nonlinear Optics and Short Pulse Spectroscopy in Berlin as a Director, in addition to accepting a chair as a professor at Humboldt University. She has been working many years as a research group leader at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics in the Emeritus Group Laser Spectroscopy led by Theodor Hänsch. She has garnered various awards for her research, including an ERC Advanced Grant, the Gentner-Kastler Prize, the Helmholtz Prize, and the Grand Prix Cécile DeWitt-Morette.

Congratulations, Nathalie Picqué!

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