Wolf Prize Laureate in Physics 2022
Affiliation at the time of the award:
Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, Germany
“for pioneering contributions to ultrafast laser science and attosecond physics”
“for pioneering and novel work in the fields of ultrafast laser science and attosecond physics and for demonstrating time-resolved imaging of electron motion in atoms, molecules, and solids. Each of them made crucial contributions, both to the technical development of attosecond physics and to its application to fundamental physics studies”.
Krausz, an Hungarian-Austrian physicist whose research team was the first to generate and measure attosecond light pulses and used them to capture electron motion inside atoms.
Krausz was awarded his MSc in Electrical Engineering at the Budapest University of Technology in 1985. His Ph.D. in Quantum Electronics is from the Vienna University of Technology, in 1991, and his “Habilitation” from the same university in 1993. He joined the Department of Electrical Engineering as Associate Professor in 1998 and became a full Professor in 1999. In 2003 he was appointed a Director in the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics in Garching, Germany. Since 2004, he is a Professor of Physics and Chair of Experimental Physics at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. Krausz is fascinated by expeditions into ever smaller dimensions of space and time. As far back as the early 1990s, when he was working on his doctorate at the Vienna University of Technology, he was impressed by the idea to do so using extremely short pulses of light that new lasers were making possible at the time. The first attosecond pulses were generated and measured by Krausz’s group in the early 2000s. This allowed Krausz to make real-time observations of electron movements on atomic scales for the first time. Today, we are using such pulses to gain a better understanding of microscopic processes involving electrons, atoms, and molecules, and to find how they affect the macroscopic worlds.
Krausz’s recent work at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics includes several exciting new applications. With his group, he attempts to use femtosecond and attosecond technology to analyze blood samples and to detect minute changes in their composition. The group investigates whether these changes are specific enough to allow diseases to be diagnosed, unambiguously, in their initial stages.
Krausz showed that the harmonic pulses have durations in the attosecond range. He also contributed to the generation of few-cycle laser pulses and the study of the time dependence of numerous atomic and molecular physics processes. He realized the feasibility of experiments with time resolution in the attosecond range. This has allowed the study of photoionization in the time-domain and evidenced Wigner-like time delays in the photoemission of electrons from atoms or molecules.