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October 09, 2012
2012 Nobel Prize in Physics for Research in Quantum Optics
This year's Nobel prize in physics has been awarded to Serge Haroche (Collège de France and Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris, France) and David J. Wineland (National Institute of Standards and Technology, NIST, and University of Colorado Boulder, CO, USA) for their groundbreaking work in the field of quantum optics. The researchers developed two similar experimental techniques for measuring and manipulating individual particles without affecting their quantum-mechanical properties. "The Nobel Laureates have opened the door to a new era of experimentation with quantum physics by demonstrating the direct observation of individual quantum particles without destroying them", said the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in a press release today. "For single particles of light or matter the laws of classical physics cease to apply and quantum physics takes over. But single particles are not easily isolated from their surrounding environment and they lose their mysterious quantum properties as soon as they interact with the outside world". Haroche and Wineland have developed two methods that now allow scientists to examine, control and count very fragile quantum states that were previously thought inaccessible for direct observation. Their work has important implications in the development of quantum computers and light-based clocks far more precise than the atomic clocks.
Image: Nobel Medal (© ® The Nobel Foundation). Source and further information at www.nobelprize.org.Read a related article in ChemistryViews.