Claude Cohen-Tannoudji
Cohen-Tannoudji in 2007
Born (1933-04-01) 1 April 1933 (age 91)
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 Sephardic 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]


Claude Cohen-Tannoudji, UNESCO, 2011

Selected works

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

See also


  1. ^ Krapp, Kristine M. (January 1998). Notable twentieth century scientists: Supplement - Kristine M. Krapp - Google Books. ISBN 9780787627669. Retrieved 2013-03-09 – via Google Books.
  2. ^ a b c d "Claude Cohen-Tannoudji". Retrieved 2017-12-21.
  3. ^ "Claude Cohen-Tannoudji - French physicist". Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  4. ^ "Photo -". Archived from the original on 2015-02-13. Retrieved 2015-02-13.
  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. ^ a b c Claude Cohen-Tannoudji. "Claude Cohen-Tannoudji - Autobiographical". Retrieved 13 February 2015.
  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. Retrieved 9 September 2020.
  10. ^ "Curriculum Vitae (Claude Cohen-Tannoudji)". École normale supérieure. Retrieved 9 September 2020.
  11. ^ "Loeb and Lee Lectures Archive: 1953 - 1990". Harvard University. Retrieved 9 September 2020.
  12. ^ "Massachusetts Institute of Technology Bulletin (1975-1976)" (PDF). MIT. Archived from the original (PDF) on 12 November 2021. Retrieved 9 September 2020.
  13. ^ "The Nobel Prize in Physics 1997". The Nobel Foundation. 1997. Retrieved 14 December 2014.
  14. ^ "Claude Cohen-Tannoudji". OSA Living History. The Optical Society. Retrieved 3 February 2020.
  15. ^ "Mainau Declaration". Retrieved 2018-01-11.
  16. ^ "Thomas Young Medal and Prize recipients". Institute of Physics. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  17. ^ "Charles Hard Townes Medal". Optica. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  18. ^ "Honorary doctorates - Uppsala University, Sweden". Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  19. ^ "Claude Cohen-Tannoudji" (in French). École normale supérieure. Retrieved 14 December 2014.