Nobel Prize in Physics awarded to Anton Zeilinger

Anton Zeilinger working on an experiment

This year’s Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to the Austrian quantum physicist Anton Zeilinger (77), Emeritus Professor at the University of Vienna. This was announced by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences on Tuesday, 4 October 2022, in Stockholm. The Nobel Prize was jointly awarded to Zeilinger, the French physicist Alain Aspect and US physicist John F. Clauser for their experiments with entangled photons.

> Information in German language

Video summary of the press conference with Anton Zeilinger

Nobel Prize for groundbreaking work in quantum information

This year, as in the previous year, the award is endowed with ten million Swedish kronors (around 920,000 euros). The laureates have received the Prize for their groundbreaking work in quantum information, for their experiments with entangled photons and for proving the violations of the Bell inequalities. The three physicists brought "from theory to practice" the quantum state that Albert Einstein once described as 'spooky action at a distance' and in which two entangled particles behave like a single unit as by magic and share their physical properties, the Nobel Committee announced.

Fascination for quantum mechanics "at first glance"

Physicist Anton Zeilinger was born on 20 May 1945 in Ried im Innkreis (Upper Austria) and is considered a pioneer in the transmission of quantum information between photons. In this field, he has made numerous breakthroughs and set transmission records in the past decades. This type of information transfer is, for example, "fundamentally important in the transmission of information in quantum computers," said Zeilinger during the press conference in Stockholm.

He has always been fascinated by quantum mechanics, "from the moment when I first heard about it," says Zeilinger. On Tuesday, Zeilinger also acknowledged his doctoral supervisor Helmut Rauch from the University of Vienna as a "pioneer in quantum physics", who enabled him to advance his research in Vienna. At that time, the field was still "completely philosophical". Zeilinger and his co-laureates have changed this. In the meantime, there are technological applications in the field, but many fundamental questions of quantum physics remain unanswered.

I consider this Prize as an "encouragement for young people", says Zeilinger and advises them: "Do not think too much about future applications." Without the large number of employees supporting him, the path towards application would not have been possible. What we will see in the next 20 years in terms of fundamentals of quantum physics and in terms of applications is "completely open", said Zeilinger who will accept the Nobel Prize together with Aspect and Clauser in Stockholm on 10 December, the anniversary of Alfred Nobel’s death.

The University of Vienna congratulates Anton Zeilinger!

Rektor Sebastian Schütze:
"We congratulate Anton Zeilinger warmly on this great success. The Nobel Prize is the most prestigious academic award and the best proof that we are conducting cutting-edge research at an international level. This is also proven by the more than 25 awards and excellence programmes in the discipline of physics in the past years."

Dekan Robin Golser:
"The Faculty of Physics is absolutely delighted about this highly deserved award for Anton Zeilinger, who has substantially shaped research and the promotion of early stage researchers at our Faculty since 1999 – as a top researcher, academic mentor and also as Dean of our Faculty. The fact that there is a thriving landscape for quantum research in Austria is a great achievement that can also be credited to Anton Zeilinger. With his scientific curiosity and enthusiasm, he is an inspiration for all faculty members."

> News contribution by the Central Library for Physics and Chemistry Library (in German)

About Anton Zeilinger

Anton Zeilinger was born on 20 May 1945 in Ried im Innkreis (Upper Austria). After studying physics and mathematics and completing his doctoral thesis on "Neutron Depolarization in Dysprosium Single Crystals" under the supervision of Professor Helmut Rauch at the University of Vienna, he obtained his habilitation degree in 1979 at the Technical University of Vienna. He started his career in 1972 as a research assistant at the Atominstitut Vienna and was, among others, Fulbright Fellow at the M.I.T., working with the 1994 Nobel Prize laureate Clifford Shull. Furthermore, he was assistant professor at the Atominstitut Vienna, at the M.I.T. as well as TU Wien. Following professorship positions at the Technical University of Munich and the University of Innsbruck, he has been Professor of Experimental Physics at the University of Vienna since 1999, and Emeritus Professor at the University of Vienna since 2013. Furthermore, Anton Zeilinger has been conducting research at the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information of the Austrian Academy of Sciences since 2004, of which he was also the Director from 2004 to 2013. From 2013 to 2022, Zeilinger served as President of the Austrian Academy of Sciences.

Anton Zeilinger has been awarded multiple honorary doctorates and honorary professorships. In addition, he has received numerous prestigious prizes, including the Wolf Prize in Physics in 2010, the John Stewart Bell Prize in 2017 and the Micius Quantum Prize in 2019. Moreover, Zeilinger has received the Grand Decoration of Honour in Gold for Services to the Republic of Austria and to Vienna. He is Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and member of numerous academies of science around the world. (APA/red)