Three researchers who helped break the nanoscale barrier in optics have been awarded the Kavli Prize in Nanoscience. Thomas W. Ebbesen of Louis Pasteur University in France, Stefan W. Hell of the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Germany and Sir John B. Pendry of Imperial College London will receive the awards in Oslo in September and split the $1 million cash prize. The three have made “transformative contributions to the field of nano-optics that have broken long-held beliefs about the limitations of the resolution limits of optical microscopy and imaging,” according to the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, which presents the biennial awards. “This ability to see and image nanoscale objects is a critical prerequisite to further advances in the broader field of nanoscience,” the academy said. Ebbesen was the first to observe light propagation through holes much smaller than the light wavelength, now understood as a phenomena related to surface plasmons. He published his first findings in this area in 1998. Hell proposed stimulated emission depletion (STED) microscopy in the early 1990s, and the technique later went on to break the 200-nm resolution barrier established by Ernst Abbe over a century before. Hell has continued to develop STED and other microscopy techniques derived from it. Pendry’s work on the interaction of light and matter led to the design of metamaterials with negative refractive indices. He also proposed a metamaterial “perfect lens” with unlimited resolution and the idea of an invisibility cloak, which has found experimental realizations at microwave and visible wavelengths. Also recognized with Kavli Prizes were astrophysicists Alan H. Guth, Andrei D. Linde and Alexei A. Starobinsky for their work on cosmic inflation, as well as Brenda Milner, John O’Keefe and Marcus E. Raichle for their work in neuroscience. For more information, visit www.kavliprize.no.