Honorary fellows: Dr Michèle Leduc
CNRS and Laboratoire Kastler Brossel, Ecole Normale Supérieure
For her outstanding contribution to the development of physics within the European community.
Michèle Leduc has pioneered several original cross disciplinary fields. She first opened up the area of polarized quantum fluids where the macroscopic properties of the gas are modified by the polarization of their nuclear spin; she thus demonstrated the occurrence of spin waves in a polarized helium 3 gas. She created new generations of IR lasers for helium, used by close to a hundred groups over the world, in particular for magnetometry. With German groups she developed dense polarized helium 3 targets for fundamental tests in nuclear physics and for spin filters at neutron reactors, still in operation nowadays. At the same time she introduced the fully original method of MRI with hyper-polarized gas, a diagnosis tool for several pulmonary diseases still under development. Two decades ago with Claude Cohen-Tannoudji she was able to bring a gas of excited metastable helium atoms to the nano-K range and to the Bose-Einstein condensation, a unique tour de force. She continues her work in the field of degenerate quantum gases as the director of the IFRAF (Institut Francilien de Recherche sur les Atomes Froids).
As well as a distinguished research career, Leduc has held a number of high profile science policy offices. She has served as the director of Laboratoire Kastler Brossel and of the Center of Physics at Les Houches and currently heads the CNRS (Centre national de la recherche scientifique) Ethical Committee where she is developing policy to maintain research integrity in France.
Leduc was President of the French Physical Society (la Société Française de Physique) from 2007 to 2009 and is currently President of the Fédération Française de Sociétés Scientifiques, a collection of learned societies promoting science and technology, one of whose aims is to encourage school children, in particular girls, to study science.
Leduc’s on-going commitment to the promotion of physics has been recognised through a scientific number of awards; she has also received the prestigious national awards of the Légion d’honneur and l’Ordre du Mérite.