The winners for the 2016 Nobel Prize in Physics has just been announced today. It is going to three people this year:
Going from left to right we have Professor J. Michael Kosterlitz, Professor Duncan Haldane and Emeritus Professor David Thouless. All three contributed in the realm of 2D materials nearly three decades ago and have finally been rewarded for their work. Their brilliant revelation was that the mathematics of topology, despite seeming abstract, could still be applied to the surfaces of thin, almost 2D, films. Michael Kosterlitz and David Thouless were able to prove that superconductivity could exist in thin layers and also proved the theory of phase transition, which explains why superconductors lose their properties at higher temperatures, and is still standing to this day. Thouless then went on to develop the idea of the Quantum Hall Effect which avid readers will remember occasionally turns up on this blog. Duncan Haldane expanded this to discover the Fractional Quantum Hall Effect and also the concept of spin chains (chains of small magnets) in some materials. All together they receive 8 million Swedish Krona (£730000 or $930000) to split between them. A large sum of money certainly, but in many ways the recognition is a lot more valuable to a physicists then any currency.