Nobel Prize in Physics awarded for breakthrough in quantum mechanics

The 2022 Nobel Prize in Physics has been awarded to three researchers for groundbreaking experiments in quantum information science, an emerging field that could revolutionize computing, cryptography and information through so-called “quantum teleportation” transmission.

The three physicists are John F. Crowther, 79, of Walnut Creek, Calif.; Alain Aspect, 75, of Paris-Saclay Universities and Ecole Polytechnique, and 77 of the University of Vienna. Anton Zellinger.

Tuesday’s award-winning physicists have found experimental ways to confirm previous theories, including the phenomenon of “entanglement” of photons (particles of light), which Albert Einstein called “spooky action at a distance.” As the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences put it on Tuesday: “What happens to one particle in an entangled pair determines what happens to the other particle, even if they are really too far apart to influence each other. Laureate for development of experimental tools for quantum technology The foundations of a new era have been laid.”

For Crowther, the honor is long-standing.

“It’s all about the work I did more than 50 years ago,” he said, visibly delighted when he arrived at his home on Tuesday morning.

As a graduate student at Columbia University, where he earned his Ph.D. in 1969, “I’ve been trying to understand quantum mechanics, without success. Don’t understand what I don’t understand,” he said.

But then he came across a paper by physicist John Bell that showed quantum theory and a group of opposing theories known as “hidden variables” contradict each other. “If there is a difference between the two, it must be testable,” Clause said.

After Crowther moved to UC Berkeley, he and his colleagues rummaged through storage rooms for supplies, found “the physics department is full of scrap” and cut metal in a store. “We had no money to spend, so we had to build everything ourselves from scratch,” he said. The result is a 30-foot-long device that fires photons — particles of light — in opposite directions.

In 1972, Clauser and doctoral student Stuart Freedman (who died in 2012) reported that their experiments detected entanglement consistent with the predictions of quantum mechanics, according to the school.

Crowther said he was surprised by the result, which contradicted Einstein’s view of quantum mechanics.

“Einstein assumed that nature consists of matter distributed throughout space, including bits of information, etc. This seems reasonable. In fact, general relativity is based on this. Experiments show that this is not true,” Crowther said. “You can’t locate bits of information in a finite, small volume. This simple result then has applications that extend to quantum encryption and other forms of quantum information theory.”

Crowther He said officials from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences had still not contacted him when The Washington Post called, And he learned of the award from a “fan” who had been following his work for years. A flurry of media interviews followed. Traditionally, Nobel laureates are not notified in advance, but are contacted by phone ahead of an announcement.

Zeilinger did get a call an hour before the announcement.

“I’m still a bit shocked,” Zellinger said in the academy’s news release.

When asked by reporters whether it would be possible to teleport his body to another place in 10,000 years, he replied that human teleportation is “science fiction”.

Clause echoed this in an interview with The Washington Post: “If anything, I wouldn’t walk into a quantum teleporter.”

Quantum mechanics is a field of physics that dates back more than a century and has given rise to applications that people use in everyday life, including transistors and lasers. But the potential applications of the principles of quantum mechanics seem limitless.

As a doctoral student, Aspect improved the efficiency and clarity of Clauser’s early experiments before Zeilinger explored systems using more than two entangled particles, the school said. The three new Nobel laureates were previously named as a trio, who won the Israel Wolf Prize in Physics in 2010.

Quantum information science is a fast-growing field with many potential applications in information transmission and sensing technologies, Eva Olsson, a professor of experimental physics and a member of the Nobel Committee for Physics, said Tuesday.

“Its prediction opens the door to another world,” she said, “and it also shakes the foundations on which we interpret our measurements.”

The honours awarded to the three physicists were praised by University of Sydney physicist Stephen Bartlett, editor-in-chief of the American Physical Society journal PRX Quantum.

The experiments “focus on the most compelling and challenging aspects of quantum physics,” Bartlett said in an email. “Specifically, they demonstrate that ‘entangled’ quantum particles behave in a way that is completely inconsistent with our notions of how independent, separated objects should behave.”

Quantum theory may be strange and notoriously esoteric, but it is the foundation of modern physics.

Frances Herman, president of the American Physical Society and professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley, Said the Nobel laureates backed up the theory through rigorous experiments carried out early in their careers. “This work is now inspiring young people around the world to work on fundamental quantum mechanics and its applications,” she said.

At a press conference in Stockholm, “This award would not have been possible without the more than 100 young people who have worked with me over the years,” Zeilinger said.

Thors Hans Hansson, a theoretical physicist and member of the Nobel Committee for Physics, told reporters that the groundbreaking experiments “show us that the strange world of entanglement and Bell pairs is not just atomic. The microscopic world, certainly not the virtual world. Or science fiction or mysticism, but it’s the real world we all live in.”

The Faculty’s physics awards tend to rotate across many disciplines within the vast physics career, covering topics ranging from subatomic particles to the origin of the universe. Last year, the awards focused on climate change. It went to Syukuro Manabe in the US and Klaus Hasselmann in Germany to study human influence on the climate, and the Italian theorist Giorgio Parisi, whose work describes fluctuating systems at different physical scales.

In 2020, black holes were the focus of the academy, which presented awards to astrophysicists Andrea Ghez in the United States and Reinhard Genzel in Germany, and British mathematical physicist Roger Penrose.

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