Rainer Blatt and Peter Zoller are awarded the Micius Prize, which is presented for the first time this year. With Anton Zeilinger, Ignacio Cirac and Jian-Wei Pan, three other researchers who previously worked in Innsbruck will be awarded the prize.
The Chinese Micius Quantum Foundation is awarding the prizes to promote outstanding research in quantum physics. The awards, which are endowed with up to one million yuán (approximately 150,000 US-Dollars), go to twelve physicists whose work has provided fundamental knowledge in quantum research, opening up opportunities for new applications worldwide. The Foundation announced the winners on April 26. Of the prizewinners, five are or have been working in Innsbruck: Rainer Blatt (University of Innsbruck and OeAW) is receiving the prize for his seminal experiments on quantum computers, and Peter Zoller (University of Innsbruck and OeAW) along with his former Innsbruck colleague Juan Ignacio Cirac (Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics) for key theoretical work on quantum computers. Anton Zeilinger (University of Vienna and OeAW) and his former graduate student Jian-Wei Pan (University of Science and Technology of China) will be honored for pioneering experiments on secure quantum communication over long distances.
Success of basic research in Austria
"With this international award, the contribution of Austrian physics to the development of quantum technologies has been decisively confirmed", says experimental physicist Rainer Blatt. "This success is in part based on the fact that we in Austria have concentrated our efforts right from the start and conducted joint research on the fundamental questions of quantum physics, for example within the framework of special research programs of the FWF or at the Academy Institutes for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information."
"Austria may be a small country geographically, but in quantum physics it is an international heavyweight. The award of three Micius prizes by research giant China makes this clear", says Anton Zeilinger, who is also president of the OeAW. "These awards are a success for Austrian basic research, which recognized the great potential of quantum technologies early on. At the same time, I hope that the prizes act as a stimulus for politics to continue supporting quantum research in Austria and for young people to pursue their bold ideas in this field", Zeilinger adds.
"Austrian quantum physics enjoys a very good reputation worldwide, which is underscored by these awards", says Peter Zoller. "We are particularly pleased that many young scientists are continuing the successful work of recent years with enthusiasm. I hope that Austrian research policy recognizes this potential and promotes these young people as sustainably as it has done so far."
Award ceremony in September in China
The prize will be presented to the winners on September 20, 2019 in the Chinese city of Hefei. It is named after the Chinese philosopher Micius, who lived in the fifth century BC and who discovered that light travels in a straight line. The prize committee is composed of representatives of major and internationally renowned Chinese scientific institutions, such as the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Tsinghua University in Beijing, the University of Science and Technology of China, and Zhejiang University in Hangzhou.