Ludwik Leibler and Willem Vos awarded Descartes-Huygens Prize

4 December 2014

Physicists Ludwik Leibler and Willem Vos will receive the Descartes-Huygens Prize in Amsterdam on 26 January 2015. They have been awarded the prize for their outstanding research and their contribution to Franco-Dutch relations. The Descartes-Huygens Prize (EUR 23,000) is intended to cover the cost of their research residence in the Netherlands and France respectively.

The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) has awarded the annual Descartes-Huygens Prize since 1995.

Ludwik Leibler

Ludwik Leibler (born 1951 in Poland) is a French physicist who has done trailblazing work on self-healing materials. Leibler has developed a revolutionary method that uses a nanoparticular solution to connect human tissue. His innovative and transdisciplinary research has strong ties to biology. He is a recipient of the EPJE Pierre-Gilles de Gennes Lecture Prize (2014), the CNRS Medal of Innovation (2013) and the Grand Prix Fondation Internationale de la Maison de la Chimie (2012). In November 2014 he was inducted into France’s Académie des Sciences.

The Descartes-Huygens Prize will enable Ludwik Leibler to take part in Radboud University’s Nanomedicine Alliance research programme, where he intends to study the interactions between cells and soft materials, for example hydrogels.

Willem Vos

Dutch physicist Willem Vos (born 1964) is an expert in nanophotonics, which investigates the interaction between nanomaterials and light. He works for the MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology at the University of Twente, where he holds the chair in Complex Photonic Systems (COPS). He and his team recently demonstrated for the first time that a photonic bandgap can completely inhibit the emission of light. His group has also succeeded in capturing images of microscopic objects hidden behind an opaque screen. Willem Vos is an outstanding researcher, according to the jury. He was awarded his PhD ‘cum laude’ and is a recipient of a Carnegie fellowship, the Snellius Medal and a VICI grant (from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research, NWO). He is a fellow of both the American Physical Society and the Optical Society.

The Descartes-Huygens Prize will allow Willem Vos to cement a partnership between the Institute of Nanosciences and Cryogenics (CEA/INAC/SP2M) in Grenoble and the University of Twente. During his residence in Grenoble, he intends to investigate ultrafast methods for controlling the interaction between light and other particles (cavity quantum electrodynamics). This will clear the way for new applications in quantum optics and quantum computing.

The Descartes-Huygens Prize was established by the French and Dutch governments in 1995 to recognise researchers for their outstanding work and their contribution to Franco-Dutch relations. It is awarded on a rotating basis to researchers in the humanities and social sciences, the natural sciences, and the life sciences. The prize money, EUR 23,000, is intended to cover the cost of a French researcher’s research residence in the Netherlands, and a Dutch researcher’s research residence in France. The Academy selects the French candidate for the prize. The Dutch candidate is selected either by the Académie des Sciences or (if the prize is being awarded in the humanities and social sciences) by the Académie des Sciences Morales et Politiques.