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The 2024 Physica Prize was awarded to UvA-IoP and QuSoft researcher Florian Schreck. Schreck receives the prize for his work on Bose Einstein condensates and their applications, such as building a coherent and continuous atom laser. The prize will be awarded during the annual FYSICA conference in Eindhoven on 12 April.
Florian Schreck
Florian Schreck explaining his work to the Dutch king and the French president. Image: Freek van den Bergh.

Ultracold atoms

Florian Schreck is one of the leaders in the field of ultracold atoms and quantum gases. His field has become one of the most active in physics, promising breakthroughs in quantum sensing, quantum simulation, quantum computation, as well as the most accurate clocks in the world. Through an intricate combination of laser cooling and trapping, ultrahigh vacuum, and advanced optical imaging techniques, atoms can be cooled to temperatures close to absolute zero. This opens a window onto the fundaments of physics that can also be harnessed to build extremely sensitive measurement devices.

Continuous BEC
The heart of the experiment in which Florian Schreck achieved the first continuous Bose Einstein condensate. Image: Scixel.

Among Schreck's achievements are the construction of the world’s first Bose-Einstein condensate of strontium atoms, observing so-called Feshbach resonances in the interaction between rubidium and strontium atoms, opening up a novel route to the creation of ultracold molecules with both an electric and magnetic dipole moment, and achieving continuous Bose-Einstein condensation, a long-sought and elusive goal of the scientific community, and an important step towards the realization of a continuous atom laser.

From the lab to the real world

One of Schreck's goals is to bring ultracold atoms from fundamental research to real-world applications. To that end he leads multiple large EU-funded projects. He helped kickstart portable atomic clock development, and he aims to build the first national ultracold quantum clock, offering precision timing for example to telecom companies or timestamping financial transactions. Through the Quantum Delta NL consortium, his group brings ultracold quantum sensing technology closer to the market.

Among many other signs of excellence and impact, the wide appeal of Schreck's work was illustrated by the choice of King Willem-Alexander and the President of France, Emmanuel Macron, to visit his laboratories together, during the official state visit last spring.

Physica Prize

The Physica prize is awarded annually by the Physica foundation to an excellent physicist who has contributed to physics in The Netherlands. The prize will be awarded during the annual FYSICA conference, which this year will take place in Eindhoven on 12 April. At the conference, Schreck will also give a plenary lecture about his work.