Image: Barbara Kraus (Photo: IQOQI/Knabl)

[2013-12-02] Barbara Kraus was awarded the Ignaz L. Lieben Prize for outstanding achievements in the research of quantum information theory. This oldest research prize granted by the Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW) is valued at 36,000 USD.

On 28 November 2013 Barbara Kraus, Associate Professor at the Institute for Theoretical Physics at the University of Innsbruck, received the Ignaz L. Lieben Prize 2013 granted by the Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW) for her research work on quantum information and quantum entanglement theory. The Ignaz L. Lieben Prize is the oldest research award of the ÖAW and is granted for outstanding achievements in the fields of molecular biology, chemistry and physics. The Prize is valued at 36,000 USD. 
Barbara Kraus investigates many-body systems and their entanglement. “Entanglement of two particles has been studied intensively and there are many applications for it already,” says the physicist. “In contrast, entanglement of several quantum objects is not well understood yet. This might be the reason why there are relatively few applications of multipartite entanglement states.” In her work, Kraus and her colleagues use the principles of quantum entanglement of two particles and generalize them so that they are applicable to several objects. “The quantum phenomenon of multipartite systems completely differs from two entangled objects,” says the awardee. Her ideas are in great demand as experimental physicists can now control eight, ten or more quantum objects well and are, thus, able to experimentally study entanglement states directly. 
To gain a better understanding of quantum entanglement of many objects, Barbara Kraus uses several possible states that are, from the mathematical point of view, relatively easy to describe. Another approach is compressing specific quantum calculations. This is particularly interesting for quantum simulation, where objects are studied by using quantum systems that can be well manipulated. “For example, we can study phase transitions. In models where these pase transitions exist, we can reduce the calculation from 256 to 8 quantum bits and are still able to measure the same things,” explains Barbara Kraus, who adapts complex questions to experiments that are feasible today.

Highly valued award award

Until 1937 the Ignaz-Lieben Prize was the most important contribution to promote natural sciences in Austria. Ignaz L. Lieben stipulated in his testament that 6,000 florins should be used “for the common good.” In 1863, on the initiative of his son Adolf Lieben, this money was given to the Austrian Imperial Academy of Sciences and the Ignaz L. Lieben Foundation was established.  In 1938 the Ignaz L. Lieben Prize was discontinued because of the persecution of the family. With financial support from Alfred and Isabel Bader the Prize was reinstated in 2004. In 2005 another scientist from Innsbruck received the award: chemist Ronald Micura. Former laureates of the prizre are Fritz Pregl, Victor Franz Hess and Lise Meitner among others.

About Barbara Kraus

Barbara Kraus was born in Innsbruck, Austria and majored in mathematics and physics at the local university. After her graduation she worked as a Post-doc at the Max-Planck Institute for Quantum Optics in Garching, Germany and at the University in Geneva, Switzerland. As scholar of the Elise-Richter Programme she came back to Austria to the Institute of Theoretical Physics, University of Innsbruck. In 2010 she received the START Prize, the highest Austrian award for scientists granted by the Austrian Science Fund. In 2011 she was granted the Boltzmann Prize of the Austrian Physical Society. In 2013 Barbara Kraus became Professor and since then has held an Associate Professorship at the University of Innsbruck