2008 Isaac Newton medal of the Institute of Physics

Professor Dr Anton Zeilinger

University of Vienna

For his pioneering conceptual and experimental contributions to the foundations of quantum physics, which have become the cornerstone for the rapidly-evolving field of quantum information.

The Isaac Newton medal of the Institute of Physics for outstanding contributions to physics has been awarded to Professor Anton Zeilinger, Professor of Experimental Physics at the University of Vienna and scientific director of the Institute of Quantum Optics and Quantum Information IQOQI, Austrian Academy of Sciences, for his pioneering conceptual and experimental contributions to the foundations of quantum physics, which have become the cornerstone for the rapidly-evolving field of quantum information.

It is his profound insights into the microscopic nature of reality, as described by quantum theory, and his ability to turn new concepts into innovative experiments that have excited the scientific community - as well as capturing the popular imagination.

Professor Zeilinger started his career investigating the wave nature of matter through quantum interferometry experiments with neutrons and atoms. His team later went on to demonstrate the wave-particle duality concept in large molecules such as fullerenes, exploring the frontier between quantum and classical behaviour.

He also re-visited and extended established theoretical interpretations of the quantum world. In the 1990s, he carried out a series of brilliant experiments exploring the behaviour of entangled photons. He developed a method to create for the first time entangled three-particle states - Greenberger-Horne-Zeilinger states. One of his most famous experiments using correlated photons is that of quantum teleportation, reported in Nature in 1997.

Zeilinger’s work helped open the way to new quantum information technologies. He developed the first entanglement-based cryptographic system, and more recently worked on implementations of quantum computing using photon cluster states.

Professor Zeilinger is not only a founder and leader of optical quantum information science but is also a mentor for many young scientists who have gone on to make their mark in this exciting field.