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HOME > ABOUT US > NEWSLETTER > No. 33 - November 2011
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"Advances in Atomic Physics"
Interview with Nobel Laureate,
Professor Claude Cohen-Tannoudji

Q: What made you decide to write this book — "Advances in Atomic Physics"?

A: With my colleague David Guéry-Odelin, we have tried to review the spectacular developments of atomic physics during the last few decades and to use this example for showing to a public as large as possible how science is exciting.

Q: What would you say are the exciting new areas in atomic physics currently?

A: With the development of new techniques, like optical pumping, laser cooling and trapping, and Feshbach resonances, a full control of atoms and of their interactions is now available. This opens the possibility to perform tests of fundamental theories with an unprecedented accuracy, as well as to use ultracold quantum gases as quantum simulators for strongly interacting many-body systems. Technology breakthroughs have also resulted from a better understanding of atom-photon interactions; for example, the development of attosecond (10-18 of a second) laser pulses allows one to follow in real time the electron dynamics in atomic systems.

Q: For young scientists embarking on research today, would you have any special advice?

A: I think that it is important to choose research topics that excite you, to try to understand in depth the problems that you are studying, to remain curious for new ideas and be open to discussions.

Nobel Prize Winning Work 2011
World Scientific is notably the first publisher to put out two significant titles, in 1987 and 1999, respectively, on quasicrystals, a hot topic of this year’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Quasicrystals: The State of the Art, 2nd ed., published in 1999, has proven to be a useful introduction to quasicrystals for mathematicians, physicists, material scientists and students. The second title, The Physics of Quasicrystals, published in 1987, deals with the basic concepts and challenges in the field, with focus on mathematical and physical foundations of the subject, and is of immediate as well as long-lasting value to physicists, crystallographers, metallurgists and mathematicians.

The first officially reported case of what came to be known as quasicrystal, a structure that is ordered but not periodic, was made by Dan Shechtman and co-workers in 1984. Shechtman received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry this year for his findings.

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