Cambridge alumni win 2016 Nobel Prize in Physics

PUBLISHED: 15:07 04 October 2016 | UPDATED: 17:16 04 October 2016

Cambridge alumni have been awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize in Physics

Cambridge alumni have been awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize in Physics

ILIFFE

Three University of Cambridge alumni have been awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize in Physics today (Wednesday, October 4) for their pioneering work in the field of condensed matter physics.

The trio become the 93rd, 94th and 95th Nobel Affiliates of Cambridge to be awarded a Nobel Prize.

David Thouless (Trinity Hall, 1952), Duncan Haldane (Christ’s, 1970) and Michael Kosterlitz (Gonville and Caius, 1962) discovered unexpected behaviours of solid materials - and devised a mathematical framework to explain their properties.

The discoveries have paved the way for designing new materials with an array of unique properties.

The prize was divided, one half awarded to Thouless, the other half jointly to Haldane and Kosterlitz.

Professor Nigel Cooper of Cambridge’s Cavendish Laboratory said: “This prize is richly deserved.

“Through the great breakthroughs they’ve made, Thouless, Haldane and Kosterlitz took a visionary approach to understanding how topology plays a role in novel materials.”

Topology is a mathematical concept that accounts for how certain physical properties are related by smooth deformations: a football can be smoothly deformed into a rugby ball (so these have the same topology), but neither of these can be smoothly deformed into a bicycle tube (which therefore has different topology).

The first Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded in 1901.

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