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The two were cited for related but independent work: Haroche bounces light particles between mirrors to probe their quantum states, and Wineland creates traps for charged atoms and shoots in laser light to control those particles.
Discoveries based on those experiments have already been used to develop ultra-accurate atomic clocks and could eventually lead to the development of quantum computers much faster and more secure than existing electron-based technology.
Wineland’s team has made atomic clocks so accurate that scientists can measure relativistic effects over extremely short distances or time periods. The most accurate clock in the world, which uses aluminum ions
This year’s physics prize is worth 8 million Swedish kronor, or about $1.2 million, and will be shared equally between the winners.
Like Wineland, Haroche has used his experimental setup to create quantum states inspired by the famous Schroedinger’s cat paradox. In this, a quantum system exists in a superposition of two states (such as the cat being both alive and dead at the same time) until a measurement is made and the system is resolved into one of the two possible states.