Hungarian-born physicist Ferenc Krausz wins Nobel Prize

The Nobel Prize carries a cash award of 11 million Swedish krona (EUR 952,000). The award ceremony is traditionally held on Dec. 10, the death anniversary of Alfred Nobel.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced on Tuesday that Hungarian-born physicist Ferenc Krausz and French physicists Pierre Agostini and Anne L’Huillier won the Nobel Prize in Physics “for experimental methods that generate attosecond pulses of light for the study of electron dynamics in matter”.

Krausz was born in Mór, in western Hungary, in 1962. He graduated from the Budapest University of Technology (BME) with a degree in electrical engineering while simultaneously earning a theoretical physics degree from Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE) in 1985. He began his research in laser physics at BME’s Institute of Physics before obtaining a laser physics PhD at the Vienna University of Technology (TUW) in 1991, habilitated in 1993. He later worked as an associate professor and then professor at TUW, even acquiring Austrian citizenship. He has lived in Germany since 2003, serving as director of the Max Plank Institute of Quantum Optics. He has been a professor of experimental physics at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich since 2004. Krausz has been a member of the Austrian Academy of Sciences since 2003 and received an honorary doctorate from BME in 2005. He was elected an external member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in 2007 and was a member of the National Science Policy Council between 2020 and 2023. He began working with short-pulse lasers early in his career, playing a role in perfecting femtosecond laser technology. As a result of his research, his team was the first to produce attosecond light pulses, allowing for the real-time study of electron dynamics in atoms. In 2022, Krausz was awarded the Wolf Prize in Physics “for pioneering contributions to ultrafast laser science and attosecond physics”.

Krausz told MTI that “the road to success, to the Nobel Prize, began at the physics classes in the Radnóti Miklós primary school in Mór” with his interest never lost towards the subject over the past fifty years. He expressed thanks to his primary school and Budapest university teachers with special mention of Károly Simonyi and György Marx who he said had a fundamental influence on choosing his career. Krausz also expressed thanks to Professor Arnold Schmidt for his support “in all possible aspects” as a colleague, boss and mentor at Vienna University, saying that the achievements there had created the fundaments of today’s honour. Among current research projects, he noted a nationwide project launched three years ago in Hungary with the inclusion of more than 10,000 people which is aimed at the early detection of cancer by using highly sensitive laser technology.