Media Releases

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