Francesca Ferlanio

Francesca Ferlaino has received the inaugural Cecile DeWitt-Morette, Ecole de Physique des Houches Prize, which is awarded by the French Academy of Sciences. The prize commemorates the French physicist Cécile DeWitt-Morette, who founded an internationally renowned think tank for modern physics in the Savoy Alps.

On October 15th, Francesca Ferlaino has been awarded the Cecile DeWitt-Morette, Ecole de Physique des Houches Prize for her internationally acclaimed research with ultracold gases. Cécile DeWitt-Morette was a French theoretical and mathematical physicist. She founded the well-known research and meeting center in Les Houches and died in 2017. The award, presented by the French Academy of Sciences, is endowed with 15,000 Euros. In September, Francesca Ferlaino has already received the BEC 2019 Junior Award in Spain and was elected Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS). The awards honor her pioneering work on Bose-Einstein condensation of dipolar Erbium atoms and more generally degenerate quantum gases with long-range interactions and the realization of novel quantum phases of matter with such systems.

Understanding quantum matter

With the help of ultracold gases, quantum phenomena can be specifically induced and investigated in the laboratory. Francesca Ferlaino works with rare earth metals, as they are used today in many key technologies. These relatively heavy chemical elements offer fascinating possibilities because most of them are strongly magnetic and have many valence electrons that are important for bonding. “Due to these properties, the atoms of the lanthanides show a very complex behavior that we can control and investigate in our experiments,” explains the physicist. In 2012, she and her team produced the first Bose-Einstein condensate with erbium and shortly afterwards the first degenerate Fermigas of the same species. Only recently and simultaneously with a German and an Italian team, her team was able to observe supersolid states in quantum gases for the first time. “Our aim is to better understand the quantum properties of matter,” says the prizewinner.
After studying in Naples, Trieste and Florence, Francesca Ferlaino came to Innsbruck in 2007, where she has been Professor at the University of Innsbruck since 2014 and Scientific Director at the Institute of Quantum Optics and Quantum Information of the Austrian Academy of Sciences. The recipient of a number of prestigious awards and honors has attracted international attention for her work in the field of ultracold quantum gases. In 2013 she was awarded an Alexander von Humboldt Professorship, which she rejected in favor of her work in Innsbruck.

DeWitt-Morette: First laureate

The Cecile DeWitt-Morette, Ecole de Physique des Houches Prize of the French Academy of Sciences was created in 2019 to honor the memory of Cécile DeWitt-Morette, founder of the École de Physique des Houches. The partners of the Centre in Les Houches, the University of Grenoble Alpes, the CNRS, the CEA, Grenoble INP and the École Normale Supérieure de Lyon have donated this international prize of 15,000 euros, which will be awarded annually from this year onwards. The prize is awarded to a scientist under the age of 55 who has achieved outstanding results in the field of physics. The prize covers all fields of physics, from basic physics to its applications. The candidate must have participated in the work of the École de Physique des Houches, either as a teacher, student or organizer. The jury consists of members of the French Academy of Sciences.

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