Wed. Jun 19th, 2024

2022 Nobel Prize in Physics Awarded to Three Scientists

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the Nobel Prize in Physics 2022 to three researchers for discoveries in the field of quantum mechanics.

2022 Nobel Prize

Alain Aspect, 75, John F Clauser, 79, and Anton Zeilinger, 77, will equally share the 10 million Swedish kronor prize announced on Tuesday by the Academy.

The academy said the three scientists won 2022 Nobel Prize in physics “for experiments with entangled photons, establishing the violation of Bell inequalities and pioneering quantum information science”.

Their discoveries have significant applications, for example, in the field of encryption.

According to the Royal Academy, the scientists have each conducted groundbreaking experiments using entangled quantum states, where two particles behave like a single unit even when they are separated.

Their results have cleared the way for new technology based upon quantum information.

The ineffable effects of quantum mechanics are starting to find applications.

There is now a large field of research that includes quantum computers, quantum networks and secure quantum encrypted communication.

One key factor in this development is how quantum mechanics allows two or more particles to exist in what is called an entangled state. What happens to one of the particles in an entangled pair determines what happens to the other particle, even if they are far apart.

For a long time, the question was whether the correlation was because the particles in an entangled pair contained hidden variables, instructions that tell them which result they should give in an experiment.

In the 1960s, John Stewart Bell developed the mathematical inequality that is named after him. This states that if there are hidden variables, the correlation between the results of a large number of measurements will never exceed a certain value.

However, quantum mechanics predicts that a certain type of experiment will violate Bell’s inequality, thus resulting in a stronger correlation than would otherwise be possible.

Clauser developed John Bell’s ideas, leading to a practical experiment.

When he took the measurements, they supported quantum mechanics by clearly violating a Bell inequality. This means that quantum mechanics cannot be replaced by a theory that uses hidden variables.

Some loopholes remained after Clauser’s experiment.

Aspect developed the setup, using it in a way that closed an important loophole. He was able to switch the measurement settings after an entangled pair had left its source, so the setting that existed when they were emitted could not affect the result.

Using refined tools and a long series of experiments, Zeilinger started to use entangled quantum states.

Among other things, his research group has demonstrated a phenomenon called quantum teleportation, which makes it possible to move a quantum state from one particle to one at a distance.

“It has become increasingly clear that a new kind of quantum technology is emerging,” said Anders Irbäck, Chair of the Nobel Committee for Physics while announcing the winners.

“We can see that the laureates’ work with entangled states is of great importance, even beyond the fundamental questions about the interpretation of quantum mechanics,” the chair added.

Quick facts

Did you know?

118 Nobel Prizes in Physics have been awarded between 1901 and 2022.

47 physics prizes have been given to one laureate only.

4 women have been awarded the physics prize so far: Marie Curie in 1903, Maria Goeppert-Mayer in 1963, Donna Strickland in 2018 and Andrea Ghez in 2020.

1 person, John Bardeen, has been awarded the physics prize twice.

25 years was the age of the youngest physics laureate ever, Lawrence Bragg, when he was awarded the 1915 physics prize together with his father.

96 years was the age of the oldest physics laureate, Arthur Ashkin. (Source RSAS)

By Chala Dandessa

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