British trio awarded Physics Nobel for work on 'exotic matter'
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – A trio of British scientists working in the United States were awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize for Physics on Tuesday, October 4, for their discoveries on the "strange" states of matter.
David J. Thouless, F. Duncan M. Haldane, and J. Michael Kosterlitz share the 2016 Physics Nobel for their work on "theoretical discoveries of topological phase transition and topological phases of matter," the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said in its citation.
"This year's laureates opened the door on an unknown world where matter can assume strange states. They have used advanced mathematical methods to study unusual phases, or states, of matter, such as superconductors, superfluids or thin magnetic films. Thanks to their pioneering work, the hunt is now on for new and exotic phases of matter," it said.
The laureates will share the 8 million Swedish kronor (around $931,000 or 834,000 euros) prize sum. Thouless won 1/2 of the prize, while Haldane and Hosterlitz share the other half.
The jury said their pioneering work "has boosted frontline research in condensed matter physics, not least because of the hope that topological materials could be used in new generations of electronics and superconductors, or in future quantum computers."
Topology, in which the 3 laureates specialize, is a branch of mathematics that investigates physical properties of matter and space that remain unchanged under deforming forces, including stretching.
It holds exceptional promise for quantum computing and tiny quantum devices as topological states can transport energy and information without overheating, unlike traditional quantum mechanics.
"They demonstrated that superconductivity could occur at low temperatures and also explained the mechanism, phase transition, that makes superconductivity disappear at higher temperatures," the jury noted.
In the 1980s, Thouless was able to explain a previous experiment with very thin electrically conducting layers in which conductance was precisely measured as integer steps.
"He showed that these integers were topological in their nature. At around the same time, Duncan Haldane discovered how topological concepts can be used to understand the properties of chains of small magnets found in some materials." – With Agence France-Presse / Rappler.com
Editor's Note: The first (breaking news) version of this story stated that the three scientists are American. The story has been updated to clarify that they are British scientists working in American universities.