Quantum pioneers win physics Nobel Prize

Two pioneers of quantum optics, a field that has paved the way for super-fast computing, have been awarded the 2012 Nobel Prize for physics.

October 9, 2012

French physicist Serge Haroche, a professor of the Collège de France and Ecole normale supérieure, shares the prize with David Wineland, a physicist at the US National Institute of Standards and Technology and University of Colorado Boulder.

Announcing the prize at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm on 9 October, the Nobel Assembly said it had been awarded for "ground-breaking experimental methods that enable measuring and manipulation of individual quantum systems".

Single particles of light or matter are difficult to measure or manipulate because they lose their quantum properties when they interact with the outside world.

The Nobel laureates independently developed ways to measure and manipulate individual particles without them losing their quantum properties.

The research paves the way for the first steps in quantum technologies such as computers that can exploit the mysterious properties of quantum systems to run at incredibly fast speeds.

Jim Al-Khalili, professor of physics at the University of Surrey, said the winners had worked for some years carrying out "quite remarkable experiments".

"Until the last decade or two, some of these results were nothing more than ideas in science fiction or, at best, the wilder imaginations of quantum physicists," he said.

"Wineland and Haroche and their teams have shown just how strange the quantum world really is and opened up the potential for new technologies undreamt of not so long ago."

elizabeth.gibney@tsleducation.com

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

Worried man wiping forehead
Two academics explain how to beat some of the typical anxieties associated with a doctoral degree
A group of flamingos and a Marabou stork

A right-wing philosopher in Texas tells John Gill how a minority of students can shut down debates and intimidate lecturers – and why he backs Trump

A face made of numbers looks over a university campus

From personalising tuition to performance management, the use of data is increasingly driving how institutions operate

students use laptops

Researchers say students who use computers score half a grade lower than those who write notes

As the country succeeds in attracting even more students from overseas, a mixture of demographics, ‘soft power’ concerns and local politics help explain its policy