Alain Aspect, John Clauser, and Anton Zeilinger were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2022 for their achievements in quantum mechanics on the behavior of subatomic particles, which paved the way for work on supercomputers and encrypted communication.
The honors were presented on Tuesday for “experiments using entangled photons, proving the violation of Bell inequalities, and pioneering quantum information science,” according to the award-giving agency.
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said the laureates — Aspect is French, Clauser American and Zeilinger Austrian — enabled further fundamental research and also potentially cleared the way for new practical technology.
The scientists all conducted experiments into quantum entanglement, where two particles are linked regardless of the space between them, a field that unsettled Albert Einstein himself, who once referred to it in a letter as “spooky action at a distance”.
“It was very kind to receive your phone call just about an hour ago and I’m still kind of shocked, but very positive, so thank you very much,” Zeilinger told a news conference over the phone.
“I have to say that I was I was always interested in quantum mechanics from the very first moment when I read about it. I was suddenly struck by some of the theoretical predictions because they did not fit in all the usual intuition which one might have.”
In background material explaining the prize, the academy said the laureates’ work involves “the mind-boggling insight that quantum mechanics allows a single quantum system to be divided up into parts that are separated from each other but which still act as a single unit.”
“This goes against all the usual ideas about cause and effect and the nature of reality.”