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Trio shares Nobel Prize in physics for study on light

XINHUA | Updated: 2023-10-04 09:14

Portraits of Nobel Laureates in Physics 2023 Pierre Agostini (L), Ferenc Krausz (C) and Anne L'Huillier are shown on a screen during the prize announcement at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm, Sweden, Oct 3, 2023. [Photo/Xinhua]

STOCKHOLM — The Nobel Prize in physics was awarded on Tuesday to three scientists who look at electrons in atoms during the tiniest of split seconds.

Pierre Agostini of The Ohio State University in the United States, Ferenc Krausz of the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics and Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich in Germany and Anne L'Huillier of Lund University in Sweden won the award.

Their experiments "have given humanity new tools for exploring the world of electrons inside atoms and molecules", according to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, which announced the prize in Stockholm. They "have demonstrated a way to create extremely short pulses of light that can be used to measure the rapid processes in which electrons move or change energy".

At the moment, this science is about understanding the universe rather than practical applications, but the hope is that it will eventually lead to better electronics and disease diagnosis.

L'Huillier is only the fifth woman to win a Nobel in physics.

"This is the most prestigious and I am so happy to get this prize. It's incredible," she told the news conference announcing the prize. "As you know there are not so many women who got this prize so it's very special."

Inventor's bequest

The Nobel Prizes carry a cash award of 11 million Swedish kronor ($1 million). The money comes from a bequest left by the prize's creator, Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel, who died in 1896.

Last year, three scientists jointly won the physics prize for proving that tiny particles could retain a connection with each other even when separated. The phenomenon was once doubted but is now being explored for potential real-world applications such as encrypting information.

The physics prize is the second Nobel of the season after the medicine prize on Monday went to mRNA researchers Katalin Kariko and Drew Weissman for their groundbreaking technology that paved the way for messenger RNA, or mRNA, COVID-19 vaccines.

Nobel announcements will continue with the chemistry prize on Wednesday and the literature prize on Thursday. The economics award will be announced next Monday.

The laureates are invited to receive their awards at ceremonies on Dec 10, the anniversary of Nobel's death.

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