31 May 2022

MCQST Member Nathalie Picqué Receives 2022 Helmholtz Prize

Dr. Nathalie Picqué and Dr. Edoardo Vicentini have been awarded the 2022 Helmholtz Prize in the category of “applied metrology” for the demonstration of digital holography with laser frequency combs. The Helmholtz Prize, the most important European prize for metrology, is awarded by the Helmholtz Fund for outstanding scientific and technological research in the field of precision measurement in physics, chemistry and medicine.

The 2022 prize was presented by the new President of the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB), Prof. Cornelia Denz, during a ceremony as part of the international Wilhelm and Else Heraeus Seminar on “High-Precision Measurements and Searches for New Physics” at the Physikzentrum in Bad Honnef on May 12, 2022 (see picture).

The prize-winning experiment has been performed at the Max-Planck-Institute of Quantum Optics (MPQ) and has been published in December 2021 in an article “Dual-comb digital holography” by Nathalie Picqué and then visiting doctoral student Edoardo Vincentini in the Journal Nature Photonics. It opens new perspectives for precise and unambiguous measurements of the 3-dimensional geometry of small and large objects. Frequency combs augment the capabilities of digital holography and enable holograms to render the geometrical shape of the 3-dimensional object with very high precision and without ambiguity. At the same time, other diagnostics can be performed by the frequency combs, such as molecule-selective imaging of absorbing gas clouds.

Group photo of the 2022 Helmholtz Prize for Applied Metrology winners and the award presenters. © PTB

Pictured: Presentation of the 2022 Helmholtz Prize for Applied Metrology. f.l.t.r.: Prof. Cornelia Denz (President of the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt PTB and Chair of the Helmholtz Fund), Dr. Nathalie Picqué, Dr. Edoardo Vicentini, Dr. Karl-Peter Lallmann, (Member of the Supervisory Board of the Helmholtz Fund e.V. and managing director of 1A Cal ). Credit: PTB.

About Nathalie Picqué and Edoardo Vicentini:

Group photo of the 2022 Helmholtz Prize for Applied Metrology winners and the award presenters. © PTB
Dr. Nathalie Picqué has been the leader of the molecular-spectroscopy group in the Laser Spectroscopy Division of Prof. Theodor Hänsch at the MPQ for over ten years. Her ground-breaking work on interferometry and spectroscopy with laser frequency combs has been recognized by other important prizes, including the 2021 Gentner-Kastler Prize of the German and French Physical Societies. In 2022, she became the first woman scientist in the field of atomic, molecular and optical physics working in Germany to win an ERC Advanced Grant.

Dr. Edoardo Vicentini received a master’s degree in physics engineering in 2017 and an European doctoral degree in Physics, with the highest distinctions, in 2021 both from Polytechnic University of Milan (Italy). His doctoral thesis work, “High-resolution spectroscopy by optical frequency combs”, was performed under the supervision of Dr. Galzerano and Prof. Laporta. Edoardo Vicentini spent about 8 months as a visiting student and a visiting post-doctoral scientist at the MPQ, during which he performed the prize-winning experiments on dual-comb digital holography. Dr. Vicentini is currently a post-doctoral scientist at nanoGUNE, the Basque Nanoscience Cooperative Research Center in San Sebastian (Spain).

Source: MPQ website.

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