The EPS, the Fondazione Alessandro Volta and Edison S.p.A. have awarded the 2016 EPS Edison Volta Prize for outstanding contributions to physics to Michel A.G.J. Orrit, from Leiden University, the Netherlands "for seminal contributions to optical science, to the field of single-molecule spectroscopy and imaging (first single molecule detection by fluorescence and first optical detection of magnetic resonance in single molecule) and for pioneering investigations into the photoblinking and photobleaching behaviors of individual molecules at the heart of many current optical superresolution experiments."
Professor Orrit has made significant contributions over several decades to push back the frontiers of optical physics and spectroscopy. More than 30 years ago, he produced very early and highly insightful work on Langmuir-Blodgett films and spectral hole-burning in the 1980’s.
After W. E. Moerner’s efforts in 1989 at IBM San José to detect the optical absorption of a single molecule of pentacene in p-terphenyl, Prof. Orrit demonstrated one year later at the University of Bordeaux that the optical fluorescence emitted by a single molecule could be detected with greatly improved signal-to-noise ratio. This critical and ground-breaking step opened the way for many subsequent investigations of single molecules.
Throughout his career up to the present day, Professor Orrit has shown an incredible ability to select and conquer some of the most interesting problems in modern molecular physics and spectroscopy. He has been Professor of Molecular Physics at Leiden University since 2001. He is currently heading the Molecular Nano-Optics and Spins Group at the Leiden Institute of Physics.
EPS Edison-Volta Prize
The EPS Edison Volta Prize promotes excellence in research and is given in recognition of outstanding research and achievements in physics. The Prize is given biennially to individuals or groups of up to three people. The laureates receive a medal, which is a faithful reproduction of the Medaglia Premio dell’ Associazione per l’Incremento del Commercio in Como: a portrait of Alessandro Volta together with the saying: Alexandro Voltae Novocomensi, i.e. (dedicated) to Alessandro Volta from Novum Comum, which was the old name given to the city of Como by Julius Caesar.
The Prize was established in 2011 and was awarded for the first time in 2012 to R. D. Heuer, S. Bertolucci and S. Myers from CERN, Geneva and in 2014 to J.-M. Raimond from the Laboratory Kastler Brossel at the Collège de France, Paris. It was also given to three principal scientific leaders of the ESA’s Max Planck Mission in 2015 in the frame of the International Year of Light 2015: N. Mandolesi, University of Ferrara, J.-L. Puget, Institut d'Astrophysique Spatiale, Université Paris Sud & CNRS, and J. Tauber, Directorate of Science and Robotic ESA (NL).