Black background with the Nobel Prize medal

A scientific revolution in a fraction of a second

account_circle By Patchen Barss
The 2023 Nobel Prize in Physics has been awarded to Pierre Agostini, Ferenc Krausz, and Anne L'Huillier “for experimental methods that generate attosecond pulses of light for the study of electron dynamics in matter.”
Ill. Niklas Elmehed © Nobel Prize Outreach
Ill. Niklas Elmehed © Nobel Prize Outreach

Perimeter Institute congratulates Pierre Agostini, Ferenc Krausz, and Anne L’Huillier, who share the 2023 Nobel Prize in Physics. The Prize, announced today, recognizes the three scientists’ technique of using “attosecond bursts” to study electron processes inside atoms and molecules. This technique opened up a previously inaccessible world of ultrafast subatomic events. 

Through painstaking, incremental work, Agostini, Krausz, and L’Huillier developed a method of precisely creating and combining light waves whose interference patterns formed pulses measured on the scale of attoseconds – a billionth of a billionth of a second. These bursts allow physicists to study photoelectric effects, photosynthesis, and other ultra-rapid processes where electrons move or change energy.

In addition to advancing fundamental research, attosecond bursts can be used to observe and affect chemical reactions, which could lead to revolutionary applications in medicine, electronics, and materials science. 

“This prize honours an area of physics that required dedication and commitment over decades,” said Perimeter Director Robert Myers. “It is a remarkable achievement to be able to observe the physical world at the attosecond scale. This work is already driving many new discoveries, which we expect will continue for decades to come. I want to sincerely congratulate these brilliant, devoted physicists on their well-deserved recognition.”

The 2023 Prize is also notable because L’Huillier is only the fifth woman in history to win a Nobel Prize in Physics. 

“We hope it won’t always be so rare for women to receive this kind of recognition,” said Myers. “L’Hullier will no doubt serve as an inspiration for new generations of women physicists.” 

Visit the Nobel Prize website for more information on this year’s prize. 


More information on the 2023 Nobel laureates:

  • Pierre Agostini, Professor at Ohio State University, USA: Born in 1941 in Tunisia, obtained his PhD (1968) from Aix-Marseille University, France.
  • Ferenc Krausz, Director at Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics and Professor at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Germany: Born in 1962 in Hungary, obtained his PhD (1991) from Vienna University of Technology, Austria.
  • Anne L’Huillier, Professor at Lund University, Sweden: Born in 1958 in France, obtained her PhD (1986) from University Pierre and Marie Curie, France.

About PI

Perimeter Institute is the world’s largest research hub devoted to theoretical physics. The independent Institute was founded in 1999 to foster breakthroughs in the fundamental understanding of our universe, from the smallest particles to the entire cosmos. Research at Perimeter is motivated by the understanding that fundamental science advances human knowledge and catalyzes innovation, and that today’s theoretical physics is tomorrow’s technology. Located in the Region of Waterloo, the not-for-profit Institute is a unique public-private endeavour, including the Governments of Ontario and Canada, that enables cutting-edge research, trains the next generation of scientific pioneers, and shares the power of physics through award-winning educational outreach and public engagement. 

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