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Michel Orrit wins Physica Prize 2016

Michel Orrit was awarded the Physica prize 2016 for his groundbreaking work on single molecule spectroscopy.

Michel Orrit

Detecting a single molecule

In the mid ‘80s, Orrit realized that it should be possible to optically detect a single molecule. In 1990 he became the first person to detect the fluorescence signal of one molecule.

Groundbreaking work

In 2015 the Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to Betzig, Hell and Moerner for the development of super-resolved fluorescence microscopy. The description of the scientific background clearly showed groundbreaking significance to Orrit’s experiment as the basis for the super-resolution techniques that were established afterwards. Although Moerner measured a single molecule before Orrit, the latter produced a measurement with much less background noise which made it the standard in this scientific field.

New developments

Orrit’s work gave rise to a whole new research area; single molecule/particle optics. Since he started working at the Leiden Institute of Physics, he has built up a very active research group. Recently they developed a ‘nano microphone’: a microphone consisting of only one molecule.

The Physica prize

Every year, 'Stichting Physica' awards the Physica prize to an eminent physicist employed in The Netherlands. After consulting several representatives of the Dutch physics community, the board members of the 'Nederlandse Natuurkunde Vereniging' and 'Stichting Physica' select a winner. Orrit will receive his prize at the PHYSICA 2016 conference, on April 8th 2016.

Photo at the top of the page: Image of 'super-resolved fluorescence microscopy'.

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