29. May 2024

Bessel Research Prize for Ofer Firstenberg Bessel Research Prize for Ofer Firstenberg

The Israeli quantum physicist works together with the Institute of Applied Physics at the University of Bonn

Prof. Dr. Ofer Firstenberg from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, has been awarded a Bessel Research Prize by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. The award, which is endowed with 45,000 euros, is considered an outstanding honor, especially for younger scientists, and is awarded to scientists abroad. 

Prof. Ofer Firstenberg
Prof. Ofer Firstenberg - is a leading scientist whose pioneering work in the field of nonlinear quantum optics and quantum technology has had a lasting impact on the field. A Bessel Research Award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation enables even more intensive cooperation with the Institute of Applied Physics at the University of Bonn. © Photo: Weizmann Institute of Science
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Prof. Ofer Firstenberg has been in close contact with the research groups of Prof. Dieter Meschede and Prof. Sebastian Hofferberth at the Institute of Applied Physics (IAP) for many years. Both are members of the Transdisciplinary Research Unit "Matter" at the University of Bonn. Meschede and Hofferberth were also the ones who nominated their Israeli colleague for the Bessel Prize. The prize money will be used to intensify this collaboration through longer personal visits.

“Winning the Bessel Prize offers me the opportunity for close and intensive collaboration with the Institute of Physics at the University of Bonn and other institutions in Germany that focus on nonlinear quantum optics and Rydberg physics,” says Prof. Firstenberg. “I anticipate harnessing our combined expertise – in ultracold atoms, photonics, and quantum computing – to push forward ideas for potentially new technologies, while fostering an enriching environment of mentorship and innovation within the local research community.”

Firstenberg is a pioneer in the field of research into quantum interfaces between light and matter - an area that has profound implications for the future of quantum technology. His work includes research into methods for processing quantum information encoded in photons and atoms, linking these components, and extending the storage time of the information.

After graduating from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the physicist completed his doctorate at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in 2010. In 2011, Firstenberg began his postdoctoral training at Harvard University and MIT, where he worked on photon-photon interactions in gaseous media of ultracold atoms. In 2014, Prof. Firstenberg joined the Weizmann Institute of Science to head the Light-vs-Matter Laboratory, which focuses on nonlinear quantum optics, fast and long-lived quantum memories, and quantum-enhanced sensors.

Prof. Firstenberg's groundbreaking work has earned him several prestigious awards and appointments, including the Nathan Rosen Prize for an Outstanding Young Faculty Member from the Israel Physical Society in 2018 and the Krill Prize for Outstanding Scientific Research from the Wolf Foundation in 2019. In 2023, he was selected as a member of the Young Israeli Academy and appointed Director of the Weizmann Center for Quantum Science and Technology.

"Prof. Ofer Firstenberg's research on the physics of hot and cold atoms and their role in quantum information science and sensor applications is offering new perspectives for both insight into the quantum world and applications," says Prof. Meschede from the University of Bonn. The research focuses on the study of atomic ensembles as optical media in which individual photons are generated, stored and made to interact, providing a toolkit for future quantum networks and computation with photons. "Among his contributions, two stand out as particularly revolutionary," adds Prof. Hofferberth from the University of Bonn. Prof. Firstenberg is a pioneer in the field of photon-photon interactions at the single-photon level, an area that is of fundamental importance for quantum computers and sensors, and he has developed novel methods for storing photonic quantum information in record time. 

Prof. Dr. Dieter Meschede
Institut für Angewandte Physik der Universität Bonn
Tel. 0228/73-3471
E-Mail: meschede@uni-bonn.de

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