Press release

Barcelona hosts the International Conference on Atomic Physics (ICAP) with the presence of 6 Nobel laureates in physics


From July 22-27, the Palau de Congressos of Barcelona will host the most important conference in atomic physics, which will count on the presence of 6 Nobel laureates and physicists from all over the world.

In parallel to the main conference, two special events will take place, which are also open to the public: on July 24th  at 6:00 p.m., a round table with 6 Nobel Laureates in physics and on July 26th  at 7:30 p.m., a public lecture on the change of the international system of units (SI).

Barcelona, July 19th, 2018

From July 22nd-27th, the city of Barcelona will host the 26th International Conference on Atomic Physics, ICAP2018, the most important international conference in atomic physics, which will bring together scientists from all over the world and six Nobel laureates in physics: Claude Cohen-Tannoudji, William D. Phillips, Wolfgang Ketterle, Roy J. Glauber, Theodor W. Hänsch and Serge Haroche.

Organized jointly by the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, ICFO, the University of Barcelona, and the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, the conference will be held at the Palau de Congressos of Barcelona. It will gather experts from all over the world, who will share results and visions about the field of atomic physics, with an emphasison topics such as quantum computing and communication, quantum gases, atomic clocks and quantum metrology, intense fields and ultra-fast science, among other issues.

The first ICAP conference was held in 1968 and since then, it has become one of the reference conferences worldwide. Bi-annually conference participants have the opportunity to share and discuss new discoveries in the field of atomic physics, a field of research that has managed to evolve unexpectedly since its origin, opening a new world in aspects related to the understanding of the atomic structure, the generation of laser light, the development of techniques for cooling and confinement of atoms and ions, as well as the achievement of Bose Einstein condensates and degenerated Fermi gases, among others.

This year, ICAP has organized two special events for both participants and the general public that will be running parallel to the main conference:

  • Round Table with 6 Nobel laureates: The first special event will take place on Tuesday, July 24 at 6:00 p.m. Six Nobel laureates will share and discuss their visions about the new trends in the field, the important achievements that have been obtained recently, as well as the discoveries that could be expected in the future. The Nobel laureates participating in this session are: Claude Cohen-Tannoudji (NP 1997 for the development of the method to cool and trap atoms with laser light), William D. Phillips (NP 1997 for the development of the method to cool and trap atoms with laser light), Wolfgang Ketterle (NP 2001 for obtaining Bose-Einstein condensates in diluted gases of alkaline atoms), Roy J. Glauber (NP 2005 for his contributions to quantum theory of optical coherence), Theodor W. Hänsch ( NP 2005 for his contributions to the development of precision laser-based spectroscopy including frequency combing techniques), and Serge Haroche (NP 2012 for the development of methods that allowed to measure and manipulate individual quantum systems).
  • Public Lecture on the «New SI» by William D. Phillips and Vanderlei Bagnato: the second event will be held on Thursday, July 26 at 19: 30h and will be given by Professors William Phillips (NL)and Vanderlei Bagnato, who will give an update on the «new International System of Units (SI)». The new SI will become effective in 2019, where four units, kilogram, ampere, the kelvin and mole, will be redefined in terms of natural physical constants, based on the fixed numerical values of Planck’s constant (h), the elementary charge (e), the Boltzmann constant (kB) and the Avogadro constant (NA), respectively. This lecture will explain the meaning and importance of these changes and provide a few demonstrations on how these new definitions will be implemented. This second event has been possible thanks to the Ignacio Cirac- Fundació Catalunya-La Pedrera chair at ICFO as well as additional support from Cellex Foundation.

As the organizing committee members of the conference, Maciej Lewenstein, Veronica Ahufinger and Bruno Juliá-Diaz comment, «ICAP is the most important conference in atomic physics. The results discussed in this event represent the crème de crème of contemporary research, concerning both fundamental frontiers as well as technological challenges

For more information on the conference participants and the topics to be covered in this event, see


About the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB)

The Autonomous University of Barcelona is a young university with a multidisciplinary network that brings together teaching, basic research, technology platforms, technology transfer and business creation. It has more than 3,500 research professors, and more than 40,000 students. It is positioned in the main international rankings among the 200 best universities in the world and among the 100 best in Europe, recognized for the quality and innovative nature of its research, as well as for the quality of training in the fields of social sciences, humanities, experimental sciences, biosciences, health sciences, engineering and technology.

About ICFO – The Institute of Photonic Sciences

ICFO – The Institute of Photonic Sciences, member of The Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology, is a research center located in a specially designed, 14.000 m2-building situated in the Mediterranean Technology Park in the metropolitan area of Barcelona. It currently hosts 400 people, including research group leaders, post-doctoral researchers, PhD students, research engineers, and staff. ICFOnians are organized in 26 research groups working in 60 state-of-the-art research laboratories, equipped with the latest experimental facilities and supported by a range of cutting-edge facilities for nanofabrication, characterization, imaging and engineering.

The Severo Ochoa distinction awarded by the Ministry of Science and Innovation, as well as 15 ICREA Professorships and 31 European Research Council grants demonstrate the centre’s dedication to research excellence, as does the institute’s  consistent appearance in top worldwide positions in international rankings. From an industrial standpoint, ICFO participates actively in the European Technological Platform Photonics21 and is also very proactive in fostering entrepreneurial activities and spin-off creation.  The center participates in incubator activities and seeks to attract venture capital investment. ICFO hosts an active Corporate Liaison Program that aims at creating collaborations and links between industry and ICFO researchers. To date, ICFO has created 6 successful start-up companies

About the University of Barcelona

Founded in 1450, the University of Barcelona is the major public university in Catalonia and one of the most prestigious higher education institutions in Spain. The UB is the only Spanish university member of the League of European Research Universities (LERU), an association that gathers the most important twenty-three research university centers of the continent. According to the Center for World University Rankings (CWUR), the UB is listed among the top 100 universities worldwide. In 2016, The Times Higher Education included the University of Barcelona among the top 25 universities with more than 400 years of history.

The UB has a wide educational offering, with 74 bachelor degrees, 151 official university master degrees and 48 doctoral programs. It has more than 44,000 bachelor degree students and 19,000 students of masters degrees, postgraduate studies and doctoral studies.  The University has a 15 % of international students coming from 122 different countries.

As a public institution, the UB, focused on academic excellence, is committed to provide next generations –professionals, researchers, entrepreneurs, leaders- with the ability to do their best in any part of the world.

About the Technical University of Catalunya  (UPC)

The Technical University of Catalunya  (UPC) is a public institution of research and higher education in the fields of engineering, architecture, science and technology, and is one of the leading polytechnic universities in Europe. Each year, it holds more than 5,000 undergraduate and master students and more than 300 doctors. It is one of the universities with a high index of work force insertion of its graduates: 93% work and 76% find a jop in less than 3 months. The UPC is well positioned in the main international rankings: it ranks among the 500 best in the “THE” ranking, among the 700 best in the “Shanghai” ranking and it remains among the 26 best universities in the world and as the 8th in Europe in the Ranking QS Top 50 Under 50 from 2018-2019. It is also the first university in Spain in innovation and technological development in performance, according to the U-2018 Ranking.