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Nobel Prize Highlights One of Quantum’s Signature Quirks

an artist's depiction of entanglement showing a connection between two particles represented as spheres

(Credit: © Johan Jarnestad/The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences)

The 2022 Nobel Prize in physics has been awarded to three physicists for their experiments with entangled photons—particles of light with intrinsically entwined quantum fates. The prize will be split equally between Alain Aspect, John Clauser and Anton Zeilinger.

"It is a well deserved prize and involves one of the most fundamental characteristics of nature," says JQI Fellow Alan Migdall, an expert on quantum light who also leads the Quantum Optics Group of the Quantum Measurement Division at the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

When quantum particles, like photons, become entangled, they shed some of their independence, coming together as a new quantum whole. If one of the entangled particles is measured, that result instantly gives you information about the results of measuring any of the others. Today’s Nobel Prize recognizes a series of increasingly sophisticated experiments that demonstrated the reality of entanglement while ruling out loopholes that alternative explanations might have snuck in through.

Entanglement is one of the defining traits of quantum physics that distinguishes it from everything that came before, but it is also a powerful tool for future technologies. Entanglement enables quantum computers, safer cryptography and even the teleportation of information over vast distances.

For more information about the three winners and the research that is being recognized, see the press release from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences about the award.

Coverage We’re Reading

Quanta Magazine

The New York Times

Science News

An Entanglement Explainer