Université de Strasbourg

Thomas Ebbesen

Chair of Physical Chemistry of Light-Matter Interactions, Director of USIAS

Thomas Ebbesen

Thomas Ebbesen is professor of Physical Chemistry at the University of Strasbourg in France, known for his pioneering work in nanoscience. He received a bachelor degree from Oberlin College (USA) and a PhD from the Pierre and Marie Curie University in Paris in the field of photo-physical chemistry. He worked at the Notre Dame Radiation Laboratory and, in 1988, joined the NEC Fundamental Research Laboratories in Japan.

While working at NEC, Ebbesen found that, contrary to the accepted theory at that time, it was, under certain conditions, possible to transmit light extremely efficiently through subwavelength holes milled in opaque metal films. The phenomenon, known as extraordinary optical transmission, has raised fundamental questions and can be applied in a broad variety of areas, from chemistry to opto-electronics.

In 1999, Thomas Ebbesen joined the Institute of Supramolecular Science and Engineering (ISIS) at the University of Strasbourg which he directed from 2005 to 2012. He is currently the director of the International Center for Frontier Research in Chemistry (ICFRC), and director of the University of Strasbourg Institute for Advanced Study (USIAS).

For his pioneering and extensive contribution to the field of carbon nanotubes, he shared the 2001 EuroPhysics Prize with Sumio Iijima, Cees Dekker and Paul McEuen. He has received numerous awards for the discovery of the phenomenon of extraordinary optical transmission, among which the 2005 France Telecom Prize of the French Academy of Sciences and the 2009 Quantum Electronics and Optics Prize of the European Physical Society (EPS).

Thomas Ebbesen furthermore received the 2014 Kavli Prize in Nanoscience together with Stefan Hell and Sir John Pendry for their transformative contributions to the field of nano-optics. In 2015, Thomas Ebbesen received an honorary Doctorate of Science from Oberlin College, in the presence of First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama, and was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Leuven in 2018. He also received the 35th Anniversary Award of the European Materials Research Society (E-MRS) in 2018.

Thomas Ebbesen is a member of the Institut Universitaire de France (IUF), the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, the French Academy of Science and the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium, and was made Knight of the French Legion of Honour in 2017. He held the Liliane Bettencourt Chair of Technological Innovation at the Collège de France in 2017-2018, and received the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) Gold Medal in 2019.

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