Serge Haroche

Serge Haroche ( born September 11, 1944 in Casablanca ) is a French physicist and Nobel Prize laureate, known for experiments on the foundations of quantum mechanics.

Curriculum vitae

Haroche was born in a Jewish family. His father was a lawyer of Moroccan- Jewish descent, and his mother was a teacher of Russian-Jewish descent. The family left Morocco in 1956, when the French protectorate over the country came to an end, and emigrated to France.

Haroche studied physics from 1963 to 1967 at the École normale supérieure and the Faculté des Sciences of the University of Paris. In 1967 he received his doctorate ( Doctorat de 3e cycle) and 1971 he received his second doctorate ( in the former two-stage French system Doctorat ès sciences physiques ). His doctor father was the future Nobel Prize winner Claude Cohen- Tannoudji. In 1967 he was Professeur Agrégé of Physics and simultaneously Attaché de Recherche of the CNRS; there he was in 1971 promoted to Chargé de Recherche 1973 and Maître de Recherche. From 1973 he was also Maître de conférence the École Polytechnique and from 1974 professor at the University of Paris VI (Pierre et Marie Curie ), which he remained until 2001. In 1991 he became senior member of the Institut universitaire de France, which was renewed in 1996 for another five years.

Since 2001 he is professor at the Collège de France and Chair of quantum physics. He has been a visiting professor at Yale University ( 1983-1993 ), the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University ( 1981), Stanford University, the State University of Rio de Janeiro and five years headed the Physics Faculty of the École normale supérieure ( ENS). He leads the group for Electrodynamics of simple systems at the Laboratoire Kastler Brossel (LKB ), which is supported by the ENS, the University of Paris VI and CNRS.

On October 9, 2012 him the Nobel Prize in Physics for the research of the interaction between light and matter has been awarded with the American David Wineland.


Haroche is known for the experimental observation of decoherence in quantum mechanics. He succeeded with colleagues at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris in 1996. It can be used as an experimental realization of the thought experiment of Schrödinger's cat be construed and shows the formation of macroscopically distinguishable " classical " states of quantum mechanical superposition states.

For his experiments he examined atoms (or a single atom ) in small cavities with almost perfectly reflecting walls, where the interaction of the atom could be observed with only a few photons under controlled conditions, which allowed the verification of fundamental laws of quantum mechanics (cavity quantum electrodynamics, cavity Quantum Electrodynamics )

It also examines the application of these systems in quantum information theory.

Selected Publications

  • With Jean -Michel Raimond: Exploring the Quantum - Atoms, Cavities and Photons. Oxford University Press, September 2006, ISBN 978-0-19-850914-1.
  • With M. Brune, E. Hagley, J. Dreyer, X. Maître, A. Maali, C. Wunderlich, JM Raimond: Observing the progressive decoherence of the "meter" in a quantum measurement. In: Physical Review Letters. 77, No. 24, 1996, pp. 4887-4890, doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.77.4887.
  • With Jean -Michel Raimond: Cavity Quantum Electrodynamics. In: Scientific American. 268, No. 4, 1993, pp. 54-62, doi: 10.1038/scientificamerican0493-54.

Awards and Affiliations

  • Member of the Legion of Honor
  • Member of the Académie des sciences
  • 1991-2001 Member of the Institut Universitaire de France
  • Fellow of the American Physical Society
  • 1971 Prix Aimé Cotton Société française de physique
  • 1983 Prix Jean Ricard of the Société française de physique
  • 1988 Einstein Prize for Laser Science
  • 1991 Gay -Lussac - Humboldt Prize
  • 1992 Humboldt Research Award
  • 1993 Michelson Medal of the Franklin Institute
  • 2001 Prix Tomassoni the University of Rome
  • Charles Hard Townes Award in 2007 by the OSA
  • 2009 Gold Medal of the CNRS
  • 2010 Herbert Walther Award
  • 2012 Nobel Prize for Physics
  • 2012 Election to the top of the Collège de France
  • 2013 Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences