Biography:Claude Cohen-Tannoudji

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Short description: French physicist (born 1933)
Claude Cohen-Tannoudji
Claude Cohen-Tannoudji.JPG
Cohen-Tannoudji in 2007
Born (1933-04-01) 1 April 1933 (age 90)
Constantine, French Algeria
Alma materÉcole normale supérieure (Paris)
University of Paris
Jacqueline Veyrat (m. 1958)
AwardsPrix Paul Langevin (1963)
Prix Jean Ricard (1971)
Young Medal and Prize (1979)
Ampère Prize (1979)
Lilienfeld Prize (1992)
Matteucci Medal (1994)
Harvey Prize (1996)
Nobel Prize in Physics (1997)
Scientific career
InstitutionsCollege de France
University of Paris
École normale supérieure (Paris)
Doctoral advisorAlfred Kastler
Doctoral studentsSerge Haroche
Jean Dalibard
Claude Fabre

Claude Cohen-Tannoudji (French pronunciation: ​[klod kɔɛn tanudʒi]; born 1 April 1933) is a French physicist. He shared the 1997 Nobel Prize in Physics with Steven Chu and William Daniel Phillips for research in methods of laser cooling and trapping atoms. Currently he is still an active researcher, working at the École normale supérieure (Paris).[2]

Early life

Cohen-Tannoudji was born in Constantine, French Algeria, to Algerian Jewish parents Abraham Cohen-Tannoudji and Sarah Sebbah.[3][4][5][6] When describing his origins Cohen-Tannoudji said: "My family, originally from Tangier, settled in Tunisia and then in Algeria in the 16th century after having fled Spain during the Inquisition. In fact, our name, Cohen-Tannoudji, means simply the Cohen family from Tangiers. The Algerian Jews obtained the French citizenship in 1870 after Algeria became a French colony in 1830."[7]

After finishing secondary school in Algiers in 1953, Cohen-Tannoudji left for Paris to attend the École Normale Supérieure.[7] His professors included Henri Cartan, Laurent Schwartz, and Alfred Kastler.[7]

In 1958 he married Jacqueline Veyrat, a high school teacher, with whom he has three children. His studies were interrupted when he was conscripted into the army, in which he served for 28 months (longer than usual because of the Algerian War). In 1960 he resumed working toward his doctorate, which he obtained from the École Normale Supérieure under the supervision of Alfred Kastler and Jean Brossel at the end of 1962.[2]


Claude Cohen-Tannoudji in 2010

After his dissertation, he started teaching quantum mechanics at the University of Paris. From 1964-67, he was an associate professor at the university and from 1967-1973 he was a full professor.[2] His lecture notes were the basis of the popular textbook, Mécanique quantique, which he wrote with two of his colleagues. He also continued his research work on atom-photon interactions, and his research team developed the model of the dressed atom.

In 1973, he became a professor at the Collège de France.[2] In the early 1980s, he started to lecture on radiative forces on atoms in laser light fields. He also formed a laboratory there with Alain Aspect, Christophe Salomon, and Jean Dalibard to study laser cooling and trapping. He even took a statistical approach to laser cooling with the use of stable distributions.[8]

In 1976, he took sabbatical leave from the Collège de France, and lectured at Harvard University and MIT.[9][10] At Harvard, he was a Loeb Lecturer for two weeks,[11] and at MIT, he was a visiting professor.[12]

His work eventually led to the Nobel Prize in physics in 1997 "for the development of methods to cool and trap atoms with laser light", shared with Steven Chu and William Daniel Phillips.[13] Cohen-Tannoudji was the first physics Nobel prize winner born in an Arab country.[14]

In 2015, Cohen-Tannoudji signed the Mainau Declaration 2015 on Climate Change on the final day of the 65th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting. The declaration was signed by a total of 76 Nobel Laureates and handed to then-President of the French Republic, François Hollande, as part of the successful COP21 climate summit in Paris.[15]


File:Science et paix - Claude Cohen-Tannoudji.webm

  • 1979 – Young Medal and Prize, for distinguished research in the field of optics.[16]
  • 1991 – Research Award of Alexander von Humboldt Foundation
  • 1993 – Charles Hard Townes Award[17]
  • 1994 – honorary doctorate from the Faculty of Science and Technology at Uppsala University, Sweden[18]
  • 1996 – Quantum Electronics Prize of the European Physical Society
  • 1996 – CNRS Gold medal
  • 1997 – Nobel Prize, for the development of methods to cool and trap atoms with laser light.
  • 2010 – Legion of Honour

Selected works

The main works of Cohen-Tannoudji are given in his homepage.[19]

  • Claude Cohen-Tannoudji, Bernard Diu, and Frank Laloë. 1973. Mécanique quantique. 2 vols. Collection Enseignement des Sciences. Paris. ISBN:2-7056-5733-9 (Quantum Mechanics. Vol. I & II, 1991. Wiley, New-York, ISBN:0-471-16433-X & ISBN:0471164356).
  • Claude Cohen-Tannoudji, Gilbert Grynberg and Jacques Dupont-Roc. Introduction à l'électrodynamique quantique. (Photons and Atoms: Introduction to Quantum Electrodynamics. 1997. Wiley. ISBN:0471184330)
  • Claude Cohen-Tannoudji, Gilbert Grynberg and Jacques Dupont-Roc, Processus d'interaction photons-atomes. (Atoms-Photon Interactions : Basic Processes and Applications. 1992. Wiley, New-York. ISBN:0471625566)
  • Claude Cohen-Tannoudji. 2004. Atoms in Electromagnetic fields. 2nd Edition. World Scientific. Collection of his most important papers.

See also

  • List of Jewish Nobel laureates


  1. Krapp, Kristine M. (January 1998). Notable twentieth century scientists: Supplement - Kristine M. Krapp - Google Books. ISBN 9780787627669. Retrieved 2013-03-09. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 "Claude Cohen-Tannoudji". 
  3. "Claude Cohen-Tannoudji - French physicist". 
  4. "Photo -". 
  5. Francis Leroy (13 Mar 2003). A Century of Nobel Prize Recipients: Chemistry, Physics, and Medicine. p. 218. 
  6. Arun Agarwal (15 Nov 2005). Nobel Prize Winners in Physics. p. 298. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Claude Cohen-Tannoudji. "Claude Cohen-Tannoudji - Autobiographical". 
  8. Bardou, F., Bouchaud, J. P., Aspect, A., & Cohen-Tannoudji, C. (2001). Non-ergodic cooling: subrecoil laser cooling and Lévy statistics.
  9. "Claude Cohen-Tannoudji (Collège de France), "Atom-Photon Interactions" - MIT Physics Department Special Seminar 4/29/1992". MIT. 
  10. "Curriculum Vitae (Claude Cohen-Tannoudji)". École normale supérieure. 
  11. "Loeb and Lee Lectures Archive: 1953 - 1990". Harvard University. 
  12. "Massachusetts Institute of Technology Bulletin (1975-1976)". MIT. 
  13. "The Nobel Prize in Physics 1997". The Nobel Foundation. 1997. 
  14. "Claude Cohen-Tannoudji". The Optical Society. 
  15. "Mainau Declaration". 
  16. "Thomas Young Medal and Prize recipients". Institute of Physics. 
  17. "Charles Hard Townes Medal". Optica. 
  18. "Honorary doctorates - Uppsala University, Sweden". 
  19. "Claude Cohen-Tannoudji" (in fr). École normale supérieure. 

External links