Michel Orrit wins Edison Volta Prize

The European Physical Society (EPS) has awarded the prestigious Edison Volta Prize to Professor Michel Orrit. The prize, which is awarded annually by the EPS “to promote excellent research and achievement in physics”, was awarded to Orrit

for “seminal contributions to optical science, to the field of single-molecule spectroscopy and imaging (first single molecule detection by fluorescence and first optical detection of magnetic resonance in single molecule) and for pioneering investigations into the photoblinking and photobleaching behaviors of individual molecules at the heart of many current optical super-resolution experiments.”

Edison Volta Prize

Within the past year, Michel Orrit has also been awarded the Physica Prize by the Dutch Stichting Physica and the Nederlandse Natuurkundige Vereniging as well as the Grand Prix Léon Brillouin by the Société Française d’Optique.

Read the announcement on the website of the Leiden Institute of Physics.

Michel Orrit wins the Physica Prize 2016

The Nederlandse Natuurkundige Vereniging and Stichting Physica have announced that Michel Orrit will receive the national Physica Prize 2016. Michel Orrit is honoured with the prize for his groundbreaking work on single molecule spectroscopy. In the mid ‘80s, Orrit came to the realization that it should be possible to optically detect a single molecule. A few years later, in 1990, he indeed became the first one to detect the fluorescence signal of one molecule.

Last year, the Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to Betzig, Hell and Moerner for the development of super-resolved fluorescence microscopy. The Nobel Committee’s description of the scientific background clearly showed the groundbreaking significance of Orrit’s experiment as the basis for the super-resolution techniques that were established afterwards. Moerner measured a single molecule slightly before Orrit, using absorption, but Orrit’s measurement using fluorescence produced much less background noise and became the standard in this scientific field.

Michel Orrit wins Physica Prize

Faster computers with a GPS for electrons?

To build faster computers and larger memories physicists need to know the exact position of electrons in microcircuits. Prof. Michel Orrit and colleagues want to build an apparatus for that, with the help of a 0.5 MEuro investment from the Stichting Fundamenteel Onderzoek der Materie (FOM).

Electronic GPS: simultaneous measurement of several electrons:

Prof dr Michel Orrit and Dr Sanli Faez, in collaboration with Dr Sense Jan van der Molen, have proposed a new platform to detect the charge distribution at the nanoscale. They even expect to be able to detect elementary particles, electrons, simulataneously, which is not possible with scanning probe techniques.

Schematic principle of the technique

Organic dye molecules are immobilized over a network of gold nanoparticles. Charging and discharging of hte particles modifies electric fields, thereby shifting the resonance frequency (color) of individual molecules. These frequencies are read with high accuracy through high-resolution laser spectroscopy.

Nanometer resolution

Instead of a single large reading device, the team will use a number of organic molecules as independent nanodetectors. They can be placed on top of a chip with gold nanoparticles and used to map the charge distribution of the chip. This is made possible by the large sensitivity of the molecular optical transition to spectral shifts caused by electric fields stemming from individual charges in the molecule’s environment. The resolution expected should be around a nanometer.

Faster computers

Orrit: “Our experiment can be useful to devise new methods for information storage and transfer, and to analyze scales smaller than current semiconductor transistors. This can in turn lead to faster computers with a larger storage capacity. It will help researchers get new insights into the physics of electronic components at such small scales.

About the grant

Projectruimte proposals of FOM funds small-scale fundamental projects with an innovative character and with a clear scientific, industrial or societal relevance. FOM had a budget of 10 million Euro for 2015, from which 3 million were earmarked for projects within the Sectorplan Physics and Chemistry.

Michel Orrit awarded the Grand Prix SFO Léon Brillouin

Grand Prix SFO Léon Brillouin

The French Optics Society (SFO) has announced the winners of its biennial Grand Prix SFO Léon Brillouin. Professor Michel Orrit from the Leiden Institute of Physics (LION) is one of two people that receive the honour this year. The prize was established to honor the memory of physicist Léon Brillouin (1889-1969), whose various works have profoundly influenced the development of optics. The Grand Prix is awarded every odd year, after a jury has selected the winners.