The Charpak-Ritz Prize 2022 is awarded to Laura Baudis, Professor at the University of Zürich, for her leadership in international astro-particle physics collaborations, outreach activities and seminal contributions to dark matter research. The prize is jointly given by the French and Swiss Physical Society.
Laura Baudis has provided significant contributions to a burning question in astrophysics and cosmology: What holds cosmological structures together such as galaxies and clusters of galaxies? E.g. the gravitational force of visible matter is not sufficient to explain the movement of a galaxie in a cluster of galaxies. An established approach to explain the movements is "dark matter", which cannot be detected by electromagnetic interactions. Therefore, it is not visible to us. The dark matter, which probably accounts for 85 % of all matter in the universe, could be made of new elementary particles, such as Weakly Interacting Massive Particles (WIMPs). The search for WIMPs has been a main pillar of Laura Baudis’ career.
Detectors with liquid and gas xenon have yielded the world’s best sensitivity in the detection of WIMPs. Laura Baudis, who is a professor at University of Zürich, has played a leading role in the development of large xenon detectors that are part of the international XENON programme. Laura Baudis has also been assuming key roles in the collaboration: as co-spokesperson, chair of the collaboration board and recently as chair of the science strategy team.
Laura Baudis has also been actively involved in outreach activities, giving a TED talk and she features in two documentary movies about Science and Scientists (“Chasing Einstein”, “Eros und Atome” – in German).