2014 Maxwell medal and prize

Professor Igor Lesanovsky, University of Nottingham. For his outstanding contributions to the theory of control and manipulation of quantum systems, particularly his pioneering studies of highly excited ‘Rydberg’ states in cold atomic gases.

Maxwell Lesanovsky

Lesanovsky has made seminal contributions in atomic physics and quantum theory, with an outstanding breadth of expertise, covering quantum optics, quantum information, condensed matter theory, and cold atom physics. The body of his work on highly excited atoms – so-called Rydberg atoms - is comprehensive, ranging from novel ideas of trapping and manipulating them, to analysing their peculiar long-range interactions and exploiting them for quantum logic operations, to investigations of quantum many-body and far from equilibrium physics. The innovative character of his work has substantially promoted the field of ultracold Rydberg gases and has led to breakthrough experimental results at the forefront of atomic physics.

A particularly impressive aspect of Lesanovsky’s theoretical work, is that it is always directly relevant to real systems and experiments. This is reflected in his extremely fruitful collaborations with a variety of experimentalists, which span experiments on interacting Rydberg gases, strongly-confined atomic systems and on ultracold atom based magnetic sensors.  During his PhD work, together with experimental colleagues he developed a novel technique for shaping atom traps based on radio- and microwave fields. This technique has become a major tool in cold atom physics and atom interferometry, used in the leading laboratories around the world.

Lesanovsky has quickly become a fulcrum for research in the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Nottingham, attracting many talented PhD students and postdocs, and diversifying into areas beyond atomic physics, such as quantum non-equilibrium and thermalisation of many-body systems.