The Nobel Prize in Physics 2012
Born: 11 September 1944, Casablanca, Morocco
Affiliation at the time of the award: Collège de France, Paris, France, École Normale Supérieure, Paris, France
Prize motivation: "for ground-breaking experimental methods that enable measuring and manipulation of individual quantum systems."
Prize share: 1/2
Serge Haroche was born to a Jewish family in Casablanca, Morocco. His mother, whose family had Russian roots, was a teacher, and his father a lawyer. Aged 12, Serge moved to France. Since moving to Paris he has worked at École Normale Superieure, CNRS (the National Center for Scientific Research), Ecole Polytechnique, and Collège de France, where he is currently employed. He has also spent periods of time working at Stanford, Harvard, and Yale universities in the US. Serge Haroche is married with two children.
When it comes to the smallest components of our universe, our usual understanding of how the world works ceases to apply. We have entered the realm of quantum physics. For a long time, many quantum phenomena could only be examined theoretically. Starting in the 1980s, Serge Haroche has designed ingenious experiments to study quantum phenomena when matter and light interact. He has been able to capture photons using another kind of trap - two mirrors which they can bounce between. This device allowed Serge Haroche to study the photons by passing atoms through the trap.