PALO ALTO, Calif., June 15 -- The European Physical Society (EPS) has awarded the 2004 Agilent Europhysics Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Condensed Matter Physics to four scientists for their breakthrough work in superconducting quantum bits, a major step toward achieving the goal of quantum computation. The recipients are Michel Devoret, Daniel Esteve, Hans Mooij and Yasunobu Nakamura.
For years, scientists have dreamed of a computer with the ability to quickly solve problems of enormous complexity by exploiting the quantum behavior of very small and cold objects.
"While the prospect of practical quantum computing is still decades away, this is an important step toward the realization of that dream," said Jim Hollenhorst, director of Molecular Technology at Agilent Labs. "These scientists have shown how the fundamental building block of such a quantum computer, a 'qubit,' can be realized in an electrical circuit."
Attempts at demonstrating qubits have met with varying degrees of success, Agilent said in a statement. "The prize was given for work showing that macroscopic objects can behave as qubits. This was accomplished, by exploiting the amazing properties of superconductors, materials that lose all resistance to the flow of electric current at low temperatures."
The company said the work of Devoret, Esteve, Mooij and Nakamura has not only increased the understanding of the underlying phenomena of quantum states but also demonstrated that a quantum bit can be created and controlled in a macroscopic circuit, not unlike circuits that are currently used to build today's computers.
For almost 30 years, the Europhysics Prize has been given to leading scientists in nearly every important area of condensed matter physics. It is one of the most prestigious awards given by the EPS, with eight past recipients winning the Nobel Prize in physics or chemistry subsequent to receiving the Europhysics Prize.
Agilent Technologies sponsors and funds the Europhysics Prize. With a cash award of 51,000 Swiss francs, the prize recognizes scientific excellence in basic or applied research in the physics of solids and liquids, with particular emphasis on recent work that leads to advances in the fields of electronics, electrical and materials engineering. A committee appointed by the EPS, which includes one representative from Agilent Laboratories, selects the recipients.
For more information, visit: www.agilent.com/contributions/europhysics.html