A trio of physicists won the Nobel Prize on Tuesday for discoveries in quantum mechanics that paved the way for quantum computers, networks and secure encrypted communications.
Alain Aspect of France, John Clauser of the United States and Anton Zeilinger of Austria were honored “for experiments with entangled photons that demonstrated violations of Bell’s inequalities and pioneered quantum information science,” the Physics Prize jury said in a statement.
Each scientist “performed groundbreaking experiments using entangled quantum states, where two particles behave as a single unit even when separated,” the committee said, adding that “the results paved the way for a new technology based on quantum information.”
“It is increasingly clear that a new kind of quantum technology is emerging,” Anders Irback, chairman of the Nobel Committee for Physics, said in a statement.
Albert Einstein and two other physicists first came up with the idea of quantum entanglement in 1935 in a thought experiment that became known as the EPR paradox.
These were two or more particles that existed in an “entangled” state, meaning that what happens to one determines what happens to the other – even when they are far apart, which Einstein dismissed as “spooky action at a distance “.
Clauser, a research physicist based in California, and Aspect, a professor at the Universite Paris-Saclay, were chosen for their development on the work of John Stewart Bell, who in the 1960s “developed the mathematical inequality that is named after him.”
First, Clauser “built an apparatus that emitted two entangled photons at once” through a filter to test their polarization.
“The result was a clear violation of Bell’s inequality and agreed with the predictions of quantum mechanics,” the jury said.
Aspect then closed one gap, which meant that the measurement settings did not affect the results after the entangled pair left its source.
“As an experimenter, I jumped at the chance,” Aspect said in 2010.
Zeilinger, a professor of physics at the University of Vienna, said he did not expect to be honored.
“I was actually very surprised to get the call,” Zeilinger said by phone at a Stockholm news conference.
Zeilinger was awarded for his work on “quantum teleportation, which makes it possible to move a quantum state from one particle to another at a distance,” the jury said.
“It’s not like in the ‘Star Trek’ movies or anything. Transmitting something – certainly not a person – over a distance. But the idea is that with entanglement you can transfer all the information that an object carries to some other place where the object reconstitutes,” Zeilinger said.
Physicists are credited with paving the way for what has been called the “second quantum revolution,” opening the door to a new generation of technologies including quantum computing, information processing and even new forms of online passwords.
Clauser, Aspect and Zeilinger were also honored together when they received the prestigious Wolf Prize in 2010.
The three, who will share the Nobel prize of 10 million Swedish crowns ($901,500), will receive the prize from King Carl XVI Gustaf at a ceremony in Stockholm on December 10, the anniversary of the death of scientist Alfred Nobel in 1896. created prices in his last will.
Last year, the academy honored Syukuro Manabe of Japan and the United States and Germany’s Klaus Hasselmann for their research on climate models, while Italy’s Giorgio Parisi also won for work on the interplay of perturbations and fluctuations in physical systems.
The physics prize will be followed on Wednesday by the chemistry Nobel prizes, the much-watched literature and peace prizes will be announced on Thursday and Friday, and the economics prize on Monday.