The Three Physicists Prize 2020 has been attributed to Bernard Plaçais for his outstanding work on quantum effects in electronic materials.
Bernard Plaçais created the mesoscopic Physics team at the department in 2000. With his team, he has conducted numerous studies on the quantum properties of electronic transport in low-dimensional quantum conductors. In particular, the team has developed very advanced experimental techniques (very low temperature and very low noise microwave measurements) and sophisticated theoretical models to coherently manipulate individual electrons in two-dimensional electron gases in the quantum Hall effect regime. This has opened the field of electron quantum optics : the development of a coherent source of single electrons controlled at the nanosecond scale has allowed the realization of electronic analogs of quantum optics experiments with single photons. Bernard Plaçais also initiated at the Physics department the study of low-dimensional carbon materials (carbon nanotubes and graphene), a domain in which he has become a world-renowned specialist. His work in this field combines very fundamental studies of electronic relaxation mechanisms with more applied developments in high frequency electronics. The topics introduced by Bernard Plaçais at ENS have become very important in the physics department and widely recognized at the international level.