The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for 2012 to Serge Haroche and David J. Wineland "for ground-breaking experimental methods that enable measuring and manipulation of individual quantum systems."
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To observe the quantum physics properties of individual particles of light and matter, one needs to isolate them from their surrounding environment, and both scientists have managed to do so without destroying the particles.
Their methods are similar but opposite in approach: Wineland traps ions, controlling and measuring them with photons, while Haroche controls and measures trapped photons by sending atoms through a trap.
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The work of Haroche and Wineland and their teams is especially important because it could pave the way to quantum computing.
"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," said Prof. Jim Al-Khalili of the University of Surrey, UK.
"Quantum optics may offer a route to implementing quantum computers, which some researchers believe will bring an advance in computing power far beyond what present systems offer," said Dr. Alexander Belton, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Lancaster University, UK.
Haroche is a French citizen and a professor at Collège de France and Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris, France. David J. Wineland is a U.S. citizen and a Group Leader and NIST Fellow at National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and University of Colorado Boulder.
This story originally published on Mashable here.