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2016 Nobel Prize In Physics Won By British Trio For Exotic Matter Study

First Posted: Oct 05, 2016 06:12 AM EDT

The Nobel Prize in physics, for the year 2016, has been won by three British physicists for explaining the exotic states of matter. The prize money, which consists of more than US $931,000, will be shared by the laureates according to their contribution, with one half being awarded to David Thouless, and the other half presented jointly to Michael Kosterlitz and Duncan Haldane.

"This year's laureates opened the door on an unknown world where matter can assume strange states," said the Nobel Foundation in a statement Tuesday. "They have used advanced mathematical methods to study unusual phases, or states, of matter, such as superconductors, superfluids or thin magnetic films." Approximately four decades ago, in the 1970s, Kosterlitz and Thouless challenged the then prevailing theory that superconductivity couldn't take place in extremely thin layers.

The duo showed that superconductivity could, in fact, occur at low temperatures, furthermore they also described the mechanism/phase transition that could make superconductivity disappear at higher temperatures. According to reports, the pioneering research by the physicists can be used in the future for superconductors and electronics, or for that matter even quantum computers.

The tools that the trio of physicists has developed have become a base for the study of topological phases of matter, a highly discussed topic in condensed matter physics. The three winning scientists used advanced mathematical models to study theoretical discoveries of topological phases and topological phase transitions of matter.

David Thuless, 82, is presently an emeritus professor at the University of Washington in Seattle. Michael Kosterlitz, 73, has worked at Cornell, Princeton, Bell Laboratories and Harvard. Duncane Haldane, 65, is a part of the Princeton faculty. Last year, the Noble Prize in physics was awarded to Arthur b. McDonald and Takaaki Kajita, who were named co-laureates for their discovery that neutrinos, which are enigmatic subatomic particles, have mass.

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