Immanuel Bloch

Immanuel Bloch (born 16 November 1972, Fulda) is a German experimental physicist. His research is focused on the investigation of quantum many-body systems using ultracold atomic and molecular quantum gases. Bloch is known for his work on ultracold atoms in artificial crystals of light, so called optical lattices and especially the first realization of a quantum phase transition from a weakly interacting superfluid to a strongly interacting Mott insulating state of matter.

Immanuel Bloch
Born (1972-11-16) 16 November 1972
Fulda, Germany
Residence Germany
Nationality Germany
Known forultracold atoms, optical lattices, Mott insulator
AwardsOtto Hahn Medal (2002)
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize (2004)

EPS Quantum Electronics Prize (2011)
Körber European Science Prize (2013)

Harvey Prize (2015)
Scientific career
InstitutionsLudwig-Maximilians University
Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics
Doctoral advisorTheodor W. Hänsch


Bloch studied physics at the University of Bonn in 1995, followed by a one-year research visit to Stanford University. He obtained his PhD in 2000 working under Theodor W. Hänsch at the Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich. As a junior group leader, he continued in Munich starting his work on ultracold quantum gases in optical lattices. In 2003 he moved to a full professor position in experimental physics at the University of Mainz, where he stayed until 2009.

In 2008 he was appointed scientific director of the newly founded division on Quantum Many-Body Systems at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, in Garching. Since 2012 he has been vice-dean at the department of physics of LMU and, since 2012, managing director of the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics.


The work of the physicist is concentrated on the investigation of quantum many-body system using ultracold atoms[1] stored in optical lattice potentials. Among other things, he is known for the realization of a quantum phase transition from a superfluid to a Mott insulator,[2] in which ultracold atoms were for the first time brought into the regime of strong correlations thereby allowing one to mimic the behaviour strongly correlated materials. The experimental ideas were based on a theoretical proposal by Peter Zoller and Ignacio Cirac. His further work includes the observation of a Tonks-Girardeau gas[3] of strongly interacting bosons in one dimensions, the detection of collapses and revivals[4] of the wavefunction of a Bose–Einstein condensate because of interactions, and the use of quantum noise correlations to observe Hanbury-Brown and Twiss bunching[5] and antibunching[6] for bosonic and fermionic atoms (simultaneously with the group of Alain Aspect). More recently, his research team was able to realize single-atom resolved imaging[7] and addressing[8] of ultracold atoms held in an optical lattice. Related work was carried out in the group of Markus Greiner.


In 2005 he was presented with the International Commission of Optics Prize. In 2011, he received the EPS Prize for Fundamental Aspects of Quantum Electronics and Optics[9] of the European Physical Society.

In 2013, Bloch was awarded the Körber European Science Prize and the International Senior BEC Award. For the year 2015 he received the Harvey Prize from Israel's Technion Institute.[10] He is a member of the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina and an external member of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research.


  1. I. Bloch, J. Dalibard & W. Zwerger, Many-Body Physics with Ultracold Gases, Rev. Mod. Phys. 80, 885 (2008)
  2. M. Greiner, O. Mandel, T. Esslinger, T.W. Hänsch & I. Bloch, Quantum Phase Transition from a Superfluid to a Mott Insulator Nature 415, 39-44 (2002)
  3. B. Paredes, A. Widera, V. Murg, O. Mandel, S. Fölling, I. Cirac, G. Shlyapnikov, T.W. Hänsch & I. Bloch, Tonks-Girardeau gas of ultracold atoms in an optical lattice, Nature 429, 277 (2004)
  4. M. Greiner, O. Mandel, T.W. Hänsch & I. Bloch, Collapse and revival of the matter-wave field of a Bose–Einstein condensate, Nature 419, 51 (2002)
  5. S. Fölling, F. Gerbier, A. Widera, O. Mandel, T. Gericke & I. Bloch, Spatial quantum noise interferometry in expanding ultracold atom clouds, Nature 434, 481 (2005)
  6. T. Rom, Th. Best, D. Van Oosten, U. Schneider, S. Fölling, B. Paredes, I. Bloch, Free fermion antibunching in a degenerate atomic Fermi gas released from an optical lattice, Nature 434, 481 (2005)
  7. J.F. Sherson, C. Weitenberg, M. Endres, M. Cheneau, I. Bloch & S. Kuhr, Single-atom-resolved fluorescence imaging of an atomic Mott insulator, Nature 467, 68 (2010)
  8. C. Weitenberg, M. Endres, J.F. Sherson, M. Cheneau, P. Schauß, T. Fukuhara, I. Bloch & S. Kuhr, Single-spin addressing in an atomic Mott insulator, Nature 471, 319 (2011)
  9. EPS Quantum Electronics Prize 2011,; accessed 3 December 2016.
  10. Harvey Prize 2015
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