Alain Aspect was one of the first researchers to experimentally confirm quantum entanglement, a bizarre area of quantum mechanics that perplexed Einstein and many others.
This understanding has led to applications of quantum mechanics beyond the lab scale, towards quantum computing and provably secure communications. Alain has also made breakthroughs in laser cooling, Bose-Einstein condensates, and atom lasers.
In 1935, with co-authors Podolsky and Rosen, Einstein discovered a weird quantum situation, in which particles in a pair are so strongly correlated that Schrödinger called them “entangled”. By analyzing that situation, Einstein concluded that the quantum formalism is incomplete. Niels Bohr immediately opposed that conclusion, and the debate lasted until the death of these two giants of physics.
In 1964, John Bell discovered that it is possible to settle the debate experimentally, by testing the now celebrated "Bell's inequalities", and to show directly that the revolutionary concept of entanglement is indeed a reality. A long series of experiments, started in 1972, yield more and more precise results, in situations closer and closer to the ideal theoretical scheme.
After explaining the debate, and describing some experiments, Alain showed how this conceptual discussion has prompted the emergence of the new field of quantum information and quantum technologies.
Watch Alain Aspect's entire Shannon Luminary Lecture here:
Alain Aspect is a physicist, distinguished scientist and professor at Ecole Polytechnique and Laboratoire Charles Fabry.