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Anne L'Huillier

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  • 31,000 students of which 20 percent are international
  • 3,000 doctoral candidates
  • 9,600 in staff, of which 3,750 are professor-researchers
  • 100 research laboratories
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  • 8,500 publications per year (approx. 11% of the publication in France)
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  • 4th in the world for mathematics
  • Member of three of the five the European innovation networks, in: Climate, ICT, and Health


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Anne L'Huillier

In Her Own Words

Those Magic Moments

I’ve had two key moments in my career: in 1987 at the CEA in Saclay, when we observed the first high-order harmonics in a gas of argon atoms. The second was in 2003 in Lund, when we saw evidence for ultra-short attosecond pulses and understood how to make them even shorter. These experiences stay with you for a lifetime.

Challenges to Come

The next challenge is to do new physics with these attosecond pulses, which in turn may lead to other breakthroughs.


I have good contacts at the UPMC and a long lasting and fruitful collaboration with Alfred Maquet and his group (Laboratory of Physical Chemistry - Matter and Radiation).

Words for the Up & Coming

Follow your intuition and the subjects that interest you. Physics has never been as open as today. There are lots of things to study and discover!



professor Anne L'Huillier

Presented by Paul Indelicato, Vice-President Research and Innovation


Professor Anne L’Huillier is both French and Swedish and joined the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Fontenay-aux-Roses in 1977. Associate Professor of Mathematics in 1980, she embarked on the physics of ultrafast lasers in Gerard Mainfray and Claude Manus’s group at the Photons Atoms and Molecules Department (in French: le Service des Photons Atomes et Molécules, abbreviated as SPAM!) in the CEA Research center in Saclay (CEA is the French Atomic Energy Commission). She received her doctorate from UPMC in 1986 and obtained a permanent position at the CEA in the same year. She was at the Chalmers Institute of Technology in Gothenburg in 1986, at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles in 1988 and at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in 1993. In 1995, she became Associate Professor at Lund University, and Professor of Atomic Physics in 1997. She took two years of parental leave, during which she had her two children.


Her work first focused on the harmonic generation by an intense laser pulse in gases. A powerful ultrashort laser pulse interacts with a gas and causes the creation of light pulses with double, triple,…frequencies of the incoming laser. This enables the transfer of the outstanding properties of laser light to higher-frequencies, for example from infrared to far ultraviolet. She played a pioneering role in the field.


The emerging theme of “attophysics” was created in the beginning of the 2000s. The “attosecond” (1 as = 10-18 s) is the time scale characteristic of the dynamics of electronic transitions in atoms and molecules. This temporal domain had long been regarded as inaccessible to experimentation. In the second part of her career, Professor L’Huillier played a major role in developing our ability to make physical measurements and demonstrating the feasibility of monitoring electronic transition in «real time”. She used her own developments to generate even shorter laser pulses, entering the field of attosecond. We are now able to generate laser pulses that last about 100 billionth of a billionth of a second. These ultrashort pulses have proven to be as valuable as we imagined. They enable us to observe extremely short natural phenomena and to track the movement of electrons in molecules, atoms or semiconductors, with applications in biology and technology.


For those who like bibliometrics, she has 170 (“real”) publications, cited 10,178 times in total, with a quite exceptional h factor in Physics of 49 on the Web of Science and an even better one on Google scholar (57!).


Experiments conducted at the CEA’s SPAM by Professor L’Huillier in the 1980s motivated theoretical studies on several key aspects of laser-atom interactions in a high-intensity field. The established relationship between the CEA and UPMC which subsequently followed, particularly through Alfred Maquet’s group at the Laboratory of Chemical Physics- Matter and Radiation (LCPMR), have elucidated key aspects governing these laser-atom interactions.


After Anne L’Huillier settled in Lund, the collaboration between her group and UPMC was both maintained and developed. The team at LCPMR contributed a theoretical interpretation (backed by simulations) of the advanced experiments performed in Lund. Very recently, this successful collaboration has resulted in several international publications devoted to the measurement of “attosecond delay” observed in photoionization. Through this cooperation, these two research teams have made major contributions to the emerging field of “attophysics”.


This remarkable creativity has been rewarded with numerous awards:

She received the Aimé Cotton Award of the French Physical Society in 1990 and a long series of prestigious awards, beginning with the Göran Gustafsson Prize of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (Physics) in 1998; she was named a Fellow of the American Physical Society (recognized as part of the 0.5 percent of the most innovative members) “for pioneering the understanding and development of highorder harmonic generation by short laser pulses in atomic gases”.


In 2003, she received the Julius Springer prize for applied physics with F. Krausz, “for the prediction and experimental realization of attosecond pulse trains using high harmonics”. She was elected to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences for physics in 2004.


She got an Advanced Senior Grant from the European Research Council in 2008. In 2011, she won the prestigious L’Oreal-UNESCO prize for Women in Science “for her pioneering experimental and theoretical contributions to harmonic light generation as a basic technology for attosecond science”. She was made Knight of the French Legion d’Honneur in 2011 and elected to the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences in 2012.


Lastly, in 2013, she received the Carl Zeiss Research Award and the Blaise Pascal Award from the Academy of European Sciences.


We are proud to award you this Doctorate Honoris Causa, for your invaluable contributions to the field of physics, and as testament to your longstanding friendship, complicity and generosity you have shown to our University.