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Scientific Associate of


ICO Awards

Affiliated Commission of

ICO Galileo Galilei Award 2015

October 2015 Number 105 

 Previous articles


Aram Papoyan

Institute for Physical Research of the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia, Armenia


The ICO Galileo Galilei Award Committee awarded the ICO Galileo Galilei Award 2015 to Aram Papoyan, Director of the Institute for Physical Research of the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia since 2006. The award citation reads “For his important achievements in high resolution spectroscopy of Alkali atoms and for his valuable contributions to the promotion of experimental atomic physics in Armenia”.

A. Papoyan’s main research interests are laser spectroscopy and nonlinear optics of atomic media. He obtained his Master in Radiophysics from the Yerevan State University in 1982, his PhD in Optics in 1991, and his Doctorate in Laser Physics in 2004.

During the period 1999-2003, A. Papoyan contributed to an optical experiment carried out by the group of M.A. Bouchiat at Laboratoire Castler-Brossel, Ecole Normale Supérieure (Paris, France), which lead to finding evidence of atomic parity violation in cesium (Phys. Rev. Lett. 90, 143001).

Being involved in atomic spectroscopy in wavelength-scale-thickness vapor cells since the invention of “nanocells” in 2001 by the group of David Sarkisyan, he had significant contribution to studies of coherent and magneto-optical processes in very specific conditions of resonant interaction of laser radiation with atomic vapor.

However, the most important achievements of A. Papoyan relate to studies of selective reflection of light, a process first observed over a century ago by R. Wood, and that has become a powerful spectroscopic tool. During the past 20 years A. Papoyan performed a series of experiments, where the technique of selective reflection was used to study the onset of the multi-particle interatomic collision regime in ultra-dense vapor, to achieve phase-tunable homodyne detection of atomic radiation by suppression of off-resonance reflection, to the realization of tunable locking of laser radiation frequency to atomic resonance lines, to the determination of isotopic abundance, etc. Recently A. Papoyan succeeded to observe, for the first time, selective reflection from a molecular vapor of rubidium dimers. These studies extended the capability of selective reflection as a spectroscopic instrument and had considerable impact on fundamental and applied atomic physics.

With the help of colleagues from Paris-Nord University, A. Papoyan built the first Armenian single-frequency tunable diode laser system in 1997, and carried out by then the first Armenian experiments on high-resolution atomic spectroscopy. Further significant development of research in this area brought international recognition to Armenia: nearly 70 articles on coherent, buffer-gas-induced, and magneto-optical effects in alkali metal vapors have been published since then in highly-ranked peer-reviewed journals. The most prominent of those results was a breakthrough technique linked to nanometric-thickness vapor cells, unique throughout the world for over 13 years, which was developed at Papoyan’s home Institute by the group of Prof. D. Sarkisyan.

The most productive scientific period for A. Papoyan has been the post-Soviet era, despite the fact that Armenia’s independence was being built amidst extremely difficult conditions imposed by military clashes, blockade, poverty, and even natural disasters. After more than two decades after the fall of the Soviet Union, the working conditions remain unfavorable due to fragile ceasefire, continuing blockade and shortage of science funding, which makes carrying out worldwide-class research a real challenge.During this period intense international research collaboration was developed with partner research institutions in France, Latvia, Germany, Switzerland, Bulgaria, The Netherlands, Italy and Japan.

But A. Papoyan continues promoting research on optics in Armenia, and was a strong supporter of the creation of an ICO Territorial Committee in Armenia, which he presides since its creation in 2011. He is editor of the Physical & Mathematical Section of the Armenian popular scientific journal “Gitutyan Ashkharhum” (“In the World of Science”), co-director of CNRS-SCS French-Armenian International Associated Laboratory IRMAS, member of the Board of Trustees of the A.Alikhanyan National Scientific Laboratory (Yerevan Physics Institute), member of the Governing Board of the “Radioisotope Production Center” CJSC, member of Scientific Council of the Russian-Armenian University, member of the Scientific Council of the National Bureau of Expertise and this year became member of the Editorial Board of Armenian Journal of Physics.

The ICO Galileo Galilei Award Committee 2015-2017 consists of professors María J. Yzuel (Chair, ICO VP), Anna Consortini, Nataliya Kundikova, Fernando Mendoza Santoyo, and Joseph Niemela (ICO VP).



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