The Quantum Electronics and Optics Division of the European Physical Society [EPS-QEOD] awarded its first ever Prize for Research in Laser Science and Applications to Dr. Thomas Udem (Max-Planck-Institut für Quantenoptik, Garching, Germany). More information on the prize is available on the EPS-QEOD website.
The prize was awarded to T. Udem “for significant contributions to the development of optical frequency combs and their extension into the vacuum-ultra-violet region, as well as the realization of applications in astronomy, metrology and ultra-precise fast sensitive spectroscopy”.
Over the last two decades, T. Udem has made relevant contributions to high precision spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen and the precision measurements of optical frequencies by using the so-called optical frequency comb technique, which was developed by T. Udem and collaborators at the end of the nineties. This technique allows physicists to directly count the oscillations of the optical wave of a laser that is used to measure the energy levels of the hydrogen atom. By highly increasing the accuracy of these measurements, physicists have been able to test the Quantum Electrodynamics theory with unprecedented precision.
Currently T. Udem’s research is focused on extending the frequency combs to much shorter wavelengths by employing the process of high-order harmonic generation. By means of this technique, more sensitive tests on hydrogen-like ions can be conducted. In addition, he is also working on a project aimed at precisely calibrating high-resolution astronomical spectrographs by using frequency combs. This innovative technique will be vital for several current hot astronomical research areas, most significantly the detection of Earth-like planets or, looking further ahead, to an eventual direct measurement of the acceleration of the expansion of the universe.
T. Udem will receive the 2013 Prize for Research in Laser Science and Applications at the 6th EUROPHOTON conference, which will be organised by the EPS-QEOD from 24-29 August 2014 in Neuchâtel, Switzerland. During the award ceremony, T. Udem will present an overview of his work.