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British trio win Nobel prize in Physics

British trio win Nobel prize in Physics

India Blooms News Service | | 04 Oct 2016, 03:57 pm
London, Oct 4 (IBNS): Britain's David Thouless, Duncan Haldane and Michael Kosterlitz have won the Nobel Prize in Physics for 2016 for their work on condensed matter physics, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced on Tuesday.

They have been awarded the honour for theoretical discoveries of topological phase transitions and topological phases of matter.

This year’s Laureates opened the door on an unknown world where matter can assume strange states. They have used advanced mathematical methods to study unusual phases, or states, of matter, such as superconductors, superfluids or thin magnetic films.

"Thanks to their pioneering work, the hunt is now on for new and exotic phases of matter. Many people are hopeful of future applications in both materials science and electronics," said the official website of the Nobel Prize.

A member of the Nobel committee for physics explained topology using a cinnamon bun, a bagel and a pretzel

Topology is a branch of mathematics that describes properties that only change step-wise. Using topology as a tool, they were able to astound the experts. In the early 1970s, Michael Kosterlitz and David Thouless overturned the then current theory that superconductivity or suprafluidity could not occur in thin layers.

They demonstrated that superconductivity could occur at low temperatures and also explained the mechanism, phase transition, that makes superconductivity disappear at higher temperatures.

In the 1980s, Thouless was able to explain a previous experiment with very thin electrically conducting layers in which conductance was precisely measured as integer steps.

He showed that these integers were topological in their nature.

At around the same time, Duncan Haldane discovered how topological concepts can be used to understand the properties of chains of small magnets found in some materials.

 

Image: Wikimedia Commons

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