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Anne L’Huillier awarded a Doctor Honoris Causa from Université Paris-Saclay

Research Article published on 08 November 2023 , Updated on 17 January 2024

On Monday 13 November 2023, Université Paris-Saclay awarded Anne L’Huillier, laureate of the Nobel Prize in Physics 2023 and Professor of Atomic Physics at Lund University (Sweden), the honorary title of Doctor Honoris Causa. The ceremony was broadcast live on the university's YouTube channel.

Estelle Iacona, President of Université Paris-Saclay, awards Anne L'Huillier the honorary degree of Doctor Honoris Causa from Université Paris-Saclay, in the presence of the ceremony’s guest of honour, Alain Aspect.

Anne L’Huillier is a Franco-Swedish Physicist who has led pioneering research in Attosecond Physics. After studying at the École normale supérieure de Fontenay-aux-Roses, she began her career at the Service for the Physics of Atoms and Surfaces, today known as the Laboratory of Interactions, Dynamics and Lasers (LIDYL), specialised in the interaction between intense lasers and matter, at CEA Paris-Saclay.

Her work has contributed significantly to the first observation of a spectacular process which converts infrared impulses in the extreme ultraviolet spectral range, whilst compressing their duration to an attosecond scale. This observation was demonstrated fourteen years later in 2001, by the other two co-laureates of the Nobel Prize in Physics 2023, Pierre Agostini and Ferenc Krausz.

In 1995, she continued her research at the University of Lund in Sweden, a member of the EUGLOH* University Alliance, whilst continuing to develop numerous successful French collaborations. There, she perfected the attosecond light pulse source and illustrated the movement of electrons at the centre of atoms and molecules in real time. Among the many possible applications, Anne L'Huillier successfully studied the photoelectric effect in real time, a process theorised by Albert Einstein in 1905, involving the absorption of a quantum of light (photon) and the quasi-simultaneous emission of an electron.

Anne L’Huillier is a member of the Governing Board at the Institut d’Optique Graduate School at Université Paris-Saclay. She has received numerous international distinctions for her work, including the 2022 Wolf Prize in Physics, and the 2023 BBVA Award. As a member of the Swedish, American and French Academies of Science, she also dedicates her time to teaching and has taught several generations of students and postdoctoral researchers, who are currently exploring new frontiers in the field.

Doctor Honoris Causa: an honorary distinction

In France, the honorary degree of a Doctor Honoris Causa is one of the most prestigious distinctions awarded by universities to reward “foreign figures for their important work in science, humanities or arts in France or at university”.

Anne L’Huillier was awarded the distinction from Université Paris-Saclay on Monday 13 November 2023. The award ceremony's guest of honour was Alain Aspect, laureate of the Nobel Prize in Physics 2022, Emeritus CNRS Research Director at the Charles Fabry Laboratory, Head of the Augustin Fresnel research chair at the Institut d’Optique Graduate School and a Professor at École Polytechnique.

* The European University Alliance for Global Health – EUGLOH, is coordinated by Université Paris-Saclay, and brings together nine universities: Lund University (Sweden), Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich (Germany), the University of Porto (Portugal), the University of Szeged (Hungary), the University of Alcalá (Spain), the Arctic University of Norway (Norway), the University of Novi Sad (Serbia), the University of Hamburg (Germany) and Université Paris-Saclay (France). The excellence of the members’ teaching, research and cutting-edge infrastructure make EUGLOH, a world-class higher education and research alliance.