Physicist recognised by Heriot-Watt in advancing understanding of quantum physics

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Professor Dr Tilman Esslinger, honorary grad
Professor Dr Tilman Esslinger

An internationally renowned physicist whose work has helped advance quantum science was today (Tues June 21) recognised with an honorary degree from Heriot-Watt University.

Professor Dr Tilman Esslinger, a Professor at ETH Zurich in Switzerland, was presented with a Doctor of Science (DSc) from the University during its Summer Graduations 2022.

Professor Esslinger was selected for the academic honour for his pioneering experiments relating to ultracold atoms and optical lattices, which are helping pave the way for the implementation of quantum technology in a variety of sectors including highly sensitive measurement methods and secure communications.

The German-born scientist studied physics at the Ludwig-Maximillian-University in Munich as well as at Heriot-Watt University in 1988/89.

After receiving his Honorary Degree, Professor Esslinger, said: “The time I spent at Heriot-Watt was a formative period in my life and career. All the more I am honored to receive this special recognition. I look forward to future stimulating interactions with the Physics Department and the University.”

Professor Patrik Öhberg, Head of Institute of Photonics and Quantum Sciences (IPaQS) at Heriot-Watt University, gave Professor Esslinger's laureation at a ceremony held within Oriam at the Edinburgh campus.

He said: “Professor Esslinger's impact on the field of quantum science has been immense and I wish to take this opportunity to pass on my congratulations.

“At Heriot-Watt, we have a strong reputation for our research in quantum science, and, more widely, in physics. Earlier this year, in fact, we came top in the UK for our world-leading research in physics in the influential REF 2021 results. 

“We also work closely with industry and take tremendous pride in sharing our academic expertise to deliver meaningful change to lives and communities around the world.”

Professor Esslinger built up an internationally leading group in quantum optics and is Vice-Director of the Swiss National Center of Competence in Research in Quantum Science and Technology. He has published more than 120 papers, including more than 20 articles in the prominent academic journals Nature and Science. He is also a Fellow of the American Physical Society and shared the senior Bose-Einstein Condensation (BEC) Award and received two ERC Advanced grants.

He is one of four distinguished recipients to be presented with honorary degrees this week.

Graduation ceremonies are being held at Heriot-Watt University between Friday 17 June and Friday, 24 June marking the academic achievement of students from the School of Social Sciences, the School of Engineering & Physical Sciences, the School of Energy, Geoscience, Infrastructure & Society, the School of Textiles & Design, and the School of Mathematical & Computer Sciences.

Graduations ceremonies at the Dubai and Malaysia campuses will be held in July.

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Craig McManamon