Wolf Prize Laureate in Physics 2022
Affiliation at the time of the award:
Lund University, Sweden
“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”.
Anne L’Huillier Is a French/Swedish physicist and professor of atomic physics at Lund University, working on the interaction between short and intense laser pulses and atoms. As a child, she was inspired by Apollo 11, the first manned mission to land on the Moon, in 1969. She was also influenced by her grandfather, who was a professor of electrical engineering working on radio communication. The result was a great enthusiasm for science and technology, which later made her a leader in experimental attosecond physics.
L’Huillier was awarded a double master’s degree in theoretical physics and mathematics and later switched to experimental physics to complete a Ph.D. in 1986, at Université Paris VI. She was then permanently employed as researcher at the Commissariat de l’Energie Atomique (CEA). In 1987, she participated in an experiment where high-order harmonics were observed for the first time using a picosecond Nd:YAG laser system. She was fascinated by the experiment and decided to devote her time to work in this area of research. In 1995, she moved to Lund University in Sweden where she became a full professor in 1997. In 2004 she was elected a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.
Anne L’Huillier was among the firsts to experimentally demonstrate high harmonic generation, which is the process by which attosecond pulses form, and contributed significantly to the development of a proper theoretical description of the process. She also performed a number of seminal experiments to improve the understanding of the underlying process and was a key player in the formation of the new attosecond science research field.