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U of T awards prestigious quantum mechanics prize to pioneering physicists

July 30, 2013

TORONTO, ON — The Uni­ver­si­ty of Toronto’s Cen­tre for Quan­tum Infor­ma­tion and Quan­tum Con­trol has announced Michel Devoret and Robert Schoelkopf, both of Yale Uni­ver­si­ty, as win­ners of the pres­ti­gious John Stew­art Bell Prize for their enor­mous con­tri­bu­tions to the field of quan­tum mechan­ics.

Quan­tum mechan­ics is the the­o­ry physi­cists believe describes every­thing in nature. Yet, with pre­dic­tions such as the fact that any small par­ti­cle, an atom for exam­ple, can be in two places at the same time, the sto­ry it tells is so remote from our every­day expe­ri­ence that it looks—and is—deeply mys­te­ri­ous. Over the years sci­en­tists have learned to live with these bizarre ideas and even har­ness them for prac­ti­cal pur­pos­es.

Devoret and Schoelkopf are hon­oured for pio­neer­ing exper­i­men­tal advances which have opened up a new regime for stud­ies of fun­da­men­tal quan­tum physics and the devel­op­ment of quan­tum tech­nolo­gies. By spear­head­ing the devel­op­ment of ‘cir­cuit quan­tum elec­tro­dy­nam­ics’ (cQED), they have extend­ed the study of entan­gle­ment to the are­na of sol­id-state ‘arti­fi­cial atoms.’ In the past few years, this area of research has grown immense­ly, catch­ing up quick­ly with decades of research in atom-based quan­tum optics, and the awardees have been respon­si­ble for much of the ground-break­ing work, devel­op­ing super­con­duct­ing qubits and har­ness­ing their inter­ac­tion with microwave pho­tons. Thanks to their efforts, such sys­tems are now among the most promis­ing can­di­dates for prac­ti­cal, scal­able, quan­tum infor­ma­tion pro­cess­ing devices.

“Through their enor­mous con­tri­bu­tions Michel and Robert have set forth an opti­mum plat­form for the com­mu­ni­ty to fur­ther explore, exam­ine and exploit quan­tum mechan­i­cal effects, that is like­ly to fuel astound­ing advances in the field,” says Pro­fes­sor Amr Helmy, direc­tor of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toronto’s Cen­tre for Quan­tum Infor­ma­tion and Quan­tum Con­trol.

The Bell Prize will be award­ed at 1:30 p.m. on Thurs­day, Aug. 15, 2013, in a cer­e­mo­ny at the bi-annu­al con­fer­ence host­ed joint­ly by CQIQC and the Fields Insti­tute for Research in Math­e­mat­i­cal Sci­ences. Devoret and Schoelkopf will deliv­er a pub­lic lec­ture on their trail­blaz­ing work.

This year the prize cel­e­brates the immi­nent 50th anniver­sary of the dis­cov­ery of the Bell Inequal­i­ty, a cor­ner­stone in the field dis­cov­ered by John Bell, whose insights have changed our view of real­i­ty. The award rec­og­nizes major advances relat­ing to the foun­da­tions of quan­tum mechan­ics and to the appli­ca­tions of these prin­ci­ples. This includes quan­tum infor­ma­tion the­o­ry, quan­tum com­pu­ta­tion, quan­tum foun­da­tions, quan­tum cryp­tog­ra­phy and quan­tum con­trol. The prize high­lights the con­tin­u­ing rapid pace of the­o­ret­i­cal and exper­i­men­tal research in these areas, both fun­da­men­tal and applied, and con­sists of a medal, a cer­tifi­cate and $1,000 hon­o­rar­i­um.

For more infor­ma­tion on the Bell Prize and the CQICQ-Fields con­fer­ence, vis­it


For more infor­ma­tion, con­tact:

Prof. Amr S. Helmy
Cen­tre for Quan­tum Infor­ma­tion and Quan­tum Con­trol

Ter­ry Laven­der
Com­mu­ni­ca­tions & Media Rela­tions Strate­gist
Fac­ul­ty of Applied Sci­ence & Engi­neer­ing