Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics | |
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Awarded for | Accomplishments in fundamental physics broadly defined |
Presented by | Breakthrough Prize Board |
Reward(s) | USD$3 million |
First awarded | 2012 |
Website | Official Website |
The Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics is one of the Breakthrough Prizes, awarded by the Breakthrough Prize Board. Initially named Fundamental Physics Prize,^{[1]} it was founded in July 2012 by Russia-born Israeli entrepreneur, venture capitalist and physicist Yuri Milner. The prize is awarded to physicists from theoretical, mathematical, or experimental physics that have made transformative contributions to fundamental physics,^{[2]} and specifically for recent advances.^{[3]}
Worth USD$3 million, the prize is the most lucrative physics prize in the world^{[4]}^{[5]} and is more than twice the amount given to the Nobel Prize awardees.^{[6]}
Unlike the annual Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics, the Special Breakthrough Prize may be awarded at any time for outstanding achievements, while the prize money is still USD$3 million.^{[7]}
Physics Frontiers Prize has only been awarded for 2 years. Laureates are automatically nominated for next year's Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics. If they are not awarded the prize the next year, they will each receive USD$300,000 and be automatically nominated for the Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics in the next 5 years.^{[8]}
This is a listing of the laureates by year (including Special Prize winners):
Year of award | Fundamental Physics Prize laureates | Awarded for | Alma mater | Institutional affiliation when prize awarded |
---|---|---|---|---|
2012 | Nima Arkani-Hamed | Original approaches to outstanding problems in particle physics | University of Toronto, University of California, Berkeley |
Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton |
Alan Guth | Invention of inflationary cosmology, and for contributions to the theory for the generation of cosmological density fluctuations arising from quantum fluctuations | Massachusetts Institute of Technology | Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge | |
Alexei Kitaev | For robust quantum memories and fault-tolerant quantum computation using topological quantum phases with anyons and unpaired Majorana modes; topological quantum computing. | Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, Landau Institute for Theoretical Physics | California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA Currently at KITP and UCSB, Santa Barbara | |
Maxim Kontsevich | Numerous contributions including development of homological mirror symmetry, and the study of wall-crossing phenomena. | University of Bonn Moscow State University |
Institut des Hautes Études Scientifiques, Bures-sur-Yvette | |
Andrei Linde^{[9]} | For development of inflationary cosmology, including the theory of new inflation, eternal chaotic inflation and the theory of inflationary multiverse, and for contributing to the development of vacuum stabilization mechanisms in string theory. | Moscow State University | Stanford University, Stanford | |
Juan Maldacena | Contributions to gauge/gravity duality, relating gravitational physics in a spacetime and quantum field theory on the boundary of the spacetime | Universidad Nacional de Cuyo, Instituto Balseiro, Princeton University | Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton | |
Nathan Seiberg | Contributions to our understanding of quantum field theory and string theory. | Weizmann Institute of Science, Tel-Aviv University | Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton | |
Ashoke Sen | Opening the path to the realization that all string theories are different limits of the same underlying theory. | Presidency College, Kolkata University of Calcutta IIT Kanpur Stony Brook University |
Harish-Chandra Research Institute, Allahabad | |
Edward Witten | For applications of topology to physics, non-perturbative duality symmetries, models of particle physics derived from string theory, dark matter detection, and the twistor-string approach to particle scattering amplitudes, as well as numerous applications of quantum field theory to mathematics. | Brandeis University (B.A.) University of Wisconsin, Madison Princeton University (PhD) |
Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton | |
2013 (special) | Stephen Hawking | For his discovery of Hawking radiation from black holes, and his deep contributions to quantum gravity and quantum aspects of the early universe.^{[10]} | ||
Peter Jenni, Fabiola Gianotti (ATLAS), Michel Della Negra, Tejinder Singh Virdee, Guido Tonelli, Joe Incandela (CMS) and Lyn Evans (LHC) | For their leadership role in the scientific endeavour that led to the discovery of the new Higgs-like particle by the ATLAS and CMS collaborations at CERN's Large Hadron Collider.^{[10]} | |||
2013 | Alexander Polyakov | For his many discoveries in field theory and string theory including the conformal bootstrap, magnetic monopoles, instantons, confinement/de-confinement, the quantization of strings in non-critical dimensions, gauge/string duality and many others. His ideas have dominated the scene in these fields during the past decades. | Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology | Princeton University, Princeton |
2014 | Michael Green, John Henry Schwarz | For opening new perspectives on quantum gravity and the unification of forces. | Harvard University, University of California, Berkeley; and Cambridge University, Cambridge, UK |
California Institute of Technology and Cambridge University, Cambridge, UK |
2015 | Saul Perlmutter and members of the Supernova Cosmology Project; Brian P. Schmidt, Adam Riess and members of the High-Z Supernova Team. |
For the most unexpected discovery that the expansion of the universe is accelerating, rather than slowing as had been long assumed. | Harvard, UC Berkeley (Perlmutter), University of Arizona, Harvard (Schmidt), and MIT, Harvard, UC Berkeley (Riess) | University of California, Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; Australian National University;Johns Hopkins University and Space Telescope Science Institute |
2016 | Yifang Wang; Kam-Biu Luk and the Daya Bay Team |
For the fundamental discovery and exploration of neutrino oscillations, revealing a new frontier beyond, and possibly far beyond, the standard model of particle physics. | Nanjing University (Wang) | Chinese Academy of Sciences, University of California, Berkeley |
Atsuto Suzuki and the KamLAND Team | Niigata University, Tohoku University | Iwate Prefectural University, Japan | ||
Kōichirō Nishikawa and the K2K / T2K Team | High Energy Accelerator Research Organization, Japan | |||
Arthur B. McDonald and the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory Team | Dalhousie University, California Institute of Technology | Queen's University, Canada | ||
Takaaki Kajita; Yōichirō Suzuki and the Super-Kamiokande Team |
Saitama University, University of Tokyo (Kajita) | Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe, University of Tokyo, Japan | ||
2016 (special) | Ronald Drever, Kip Thorne, Rainer Weiss | For the observation of gravitational waves, opening new horizons in astronomy and physics.^{[11]} | ||
Сontributors who are authors of the paper Observation of Gravitational Waves from a Binary Black Hole Merger (Physical Review Letters, 11 February 2016) and contributors who also made important contributions to the success of LIGO. | ||||
2017 | Joseph Polchinski | For transformative advances in quantum field theory, string theory, and quantum gravity.^{[12]} | University of California, Berkeley | University of California, Santa Barbara |
Andrew Strominger, Cumrun Vafa | Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Princeton University | Harvard University | ||
2018 | Charles L. Bennett | For detailed maps of the early universe that greatly improved our knowledge of the evolution of the cosmos and the fluctuations that seeded the formation of galaxies.^{[13]} | Johns Hopkins University | |
Gary Hinshaw | University of British Columbia | |||
Norman Jarosik,
David N. Spergel and the WMAP Science Team (Chris Barnes, Olivier Doré, Joanna Dunkley, Ben Gold, Michael Greason, Mark Halpern, Robert Hill, Al Kogut, Eiichiro Komatsu, David Larson, Michele Limon, Stephan Meyer, Michael Nolta, Nils Odegard, Hiranya Peiris, Kendrick Smith, Greg Tucker, Licia Verde, Janet Weiland, Ed Wollack, E. Wollack, Ned Wright)^{[14]} |
Princeton University | |||
2018 (special) | Jocelyn Bell Burnell | For fundamental contributions to the discovery of pulsars, and a lifetime of inspiring leadership in the scientific community.^{[15]} | University of Glasgow (BSc) University of Cambridge (PhD) |
University of Oxford and University of Dundee |
2019 | Charles Kane, Eugene Mele | For new ideas about topology and symmetry in physics, leading to the prediction of a new class of materials that conduct electricity only on their surface.^{[16]} | University of Pennsylvania | |
2019 (special) | Sergio Ferrara | For the invention of supergravity, in which quantum variables are part of the description of the geometry of spacetime.^{[17]} | CERN, UCLA | |
Daniel Z. Freedman | Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University | |||
Peter van Nieuwenhuizen | Stony Brook University | |||
2020 | The Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration | For the first image of a supermassive black hole, taken by means of an Earth-sized alliance of telescopes.^{[18]} | The EHT Collaboration consists of 13 stakeholder institutes:
| |
2021 | Eric Adelberger, Jens H. Gundlach and Blayne Heckel | For precision fundamental measurements that test our understanding of gravity, probe the nature of dark energy, and establish limits on couplings to dark matter.^{[19]} | University of Washington | |
2021 (special) | Steven Weinberg | For his continuous leadership in fundamental physics, with broad impact across particle physics, gravity and cosmology, and for communicating science to a wider audience.^{[20]} | University of Texas at Austin | |
2022 | Hidetoshi Katori | For outstanding contributions to the invention and development of the optical lattice clock, which enables precision tests of the fundamental laws of nature.^{[21]} | University of Tokyo and RIKEN | |
Jun Ye | National Institute of Standards and Technology and University of Colorado | |||
2023 | Charles H. Bennett | For foundational work in the field of quantum information.^{[22]} | IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center | |
Gilles Brassard | Université de Montréal | |||
David Deutsch | Oxford University | |||
Peter W. Shor | Massachusetts Institute of Technology | |||
2024 | John Cardy | For profound contributions to statistical physics and quantum field theory, with diverse and far-reaching applications in different branches of physics and mathematics.^{[23]} | All Souls College, University of Oxford | |
Alexander Zamolodchikov | Stony Brook University |
The New Horizons in Physics Prize, awarded to promising junior researchers, carries an award of $100,000.^{[24]}
Year of award | New Horizons in Physics Prize laureates |
Awarded for | Institutional affiliation when prize awarded |
---|---|---|---|
2013 | Niklas Beisert | Development of powerful exact methods to describe a quantum gauge theory and its associated string theory | ETH Zurich |
Davide Gaiotto | Far-reaching new insights about duality, gauge theory, and geometry, and specially for his work linking theories in different dimensions in most unexpected ways | Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics | |
Zohar Komargodski^{[25]} | Dynamics of four-dimensional field theories and in particular his proof (with Schwimmer) of the “a-theorem”, which has solved a long-standing problem | Weizmann Institute of Science | |
2014 | Freddy Cachazo | Uncovering numerous structures underlying scattering amplitudes in gauge theories and gravity | Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics |
Shiraz Minwalla | Pioneering contributions to the study of string theory and quantum field theory; and in particular his work on the connection between the equations of fluid dynamics and Albert Einstein's equations of general relativity | Tata Institute of Fundamental Research | |
Slava Rychkov | Developing new techniques in conformal field theory, reviving the conformal bootstrap program for constraining the spectrum of operators and the structure constants in 3D and 4D CFT's | Pierre-and-Marie-Curie University | |
2015 | Sean Hartnoll | For applying holographic methods to obtain remarkable new insights into strongly interacting quantum matter. | Stanford University |
Philip C. Schuster and Natalia Toro | For pioneering the “simplified models” framework for new physics searches at the Large Hadron Collider, as well as spearheading new experimental searches for dark sectors using high-intensity electron beams. | Perimeter Institute | |
Horacio Casini | For fundamental ideas about entropy in quantum field theory and quantum gravity. | CONICET | |
Marina Huerta | Universidad Nacional de Cuyo | ||
Shinsei Ryu | University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign | ||
Tadashi Takayanagi | Kyoto University | ||
2016 | B. Andrei Bernevig | For outstanding contributions to condensed matter physics, especially involving the use of topology to understand new states of matter. | Princeton University |
Xiao-Liang Qi | Stanford University | ||
Raphael Flauger | For outstanding contributions to theoretical cosmology. | The University of Texas at Austin | |
Leonardo Senatore | Stanford University | ||
Liang Fu | For outstanding contributions to condensed matter physics, especially involving the use of topology to understand new states of matter. | Massachusetts Institute of Technology | |
Yuji Tachikawa | For penetrating and incisive studies of supersymmetric quantum field theories. | University of Tokyo | |
2017 | Frans Pretorius | For creating the first computer code capable of simulating the inspiral and merger of binary black holes, thereby laying crucial foundations for interpreting the recent observations of gravitational waves; and for opening new directions in numerical relativity. | Princeton University |
Simone Giombi | For imaginative joint work on higher spin gravity and its holographic connection to a new soluble field theory. | Princeton University | |
Xi Yin | Harvard University | ||
Asimina Arvanitaki | For pioneering a wide range of new experimental probes of fundamental physics. | Perimeter Institute | |
Peter W. Graham | Stanford University | ||
Surjeet Rajendran | University of California, Berkeley | ||
2018 | Christopher Hirata | For fundamental contributions to understanding the physics of early galaxy formation and to sharpening and applying the most powerful tools of precision cosmology | Ohio State University |
Douglas Stanford | For profound new insights on quantum chaos and its relation to gravity. | Institute for Advanced Study and Stanford University | |
Andrea Young | For the co-invention of van der Waals heterostructures, and for the new quantum Hall phases that he discovered with them. | University of California, Santa Barbara | |
2019 | Rana Adhikari | For research on present and future ground-based detectors of gravitational waves. | California Institute of Technology |
Lisa Barsotti and Matthew Evans | Massachusetts Institute of Technology | ||
Daniel Harlow | For fundamental insights about quantum information, quantum field theory, and gravity. | Massachusetts Institute of Technology | |
Daniel L. Jafferis | Harvard University | ||
Aron Wall | Stanford University | ||
Brian Metzger | For pioneering predictions of the electromagnetic signal from a neutron star merger, and for leadership in the emerging field of multi-messenger astronomy. | Columbia University | |
2020 | Xie Chen | For incisive contributions to the understanding of topological states of matter and the relationships between them. | California Institute of Technology |
Lukasz Fidkowski | University of Washington | ||
Michael Levin | University of Chicago | ||
Max A. Metlitski | Massachusetts Institute of Technology | ||
Jo Dunkley | For the development of novel techniques to extract fundamental physics from astronomical data. | Princeton University | |
Samaya Nissanke | University of Amsterdam | ||
Kendrick Smith | Perimeter Institute | ||
Simon Caron-Huot | For profound contributions to the understanding of quantum field theory. | McGill University | |
Pedro Vieira | Perimeter Institute and ICTP-SAIFR | ||
2021 | Tracy Slatyer | For major contributions to particle astrophysics, from models of dark matter to the discovery of the “Fermi Bubbles.” | Massachusetts Institute of Technology |
Rouven Essig | For advances in the detection of sub-GeV dark matter especially in regards to the SENSEI experiment. | Stony Brook University | |
Javier Tiffenberg | Fermilab | ||
Tomer Volansky | Tel Aviv University | ||
Tien-Tien Yu | University of Oregon | ||
Ahmed Almheiri | For calculating the quantum information content of a black hole and its radiation. | Institute for Advanced Study | |
Netta Engelhardt | Massachusetts Institute of Technology | ||
Henry Maxfield | University of California, Santa Barbara | ||
Geoff Penington | University of California, Berkeley | ||
2022^{[21]} | Suchitra Sebastian | For high precision electronic and magnetic measurements that have profoundly changed our understanding of high temperature superconductors and unconventional insulators. | University of Cambridge |
Alessandra Corsi | For leadership in laying foundations for electromagnetic observations of sources of gravitational waves, and leadership in extracting rich information from the first observed collision of two neutron stars. | Texas Tech University | |
Gregg Hallinan | California Institute of Technology | ||
Mansi Manoj Kasliwal | California Institute of Technology | ||
Raffaella Margutti | University of California, Berkeley | ||
Dominic Else | For pioneering theoretical work formulating novel phases of non-equilibrium quantum matter, including time crystals. | Harvard University | |
Vedika Khemani | Stanford University | ||
Haruki Watanabe | University of Tokyo | ||
Norman Y. Yao | University of California, Berkeley | ||
2023^{[22]} | David Simmons-Duffin | For the development of analytical and numerical techniques to study conformal field theories, including the ones describing the liquid vapor critical point and the superfluid phase transition. | California Institute of Technology |
Anna Grassellino | For the discovery of major performance enhancements to niobium superconducting radio-frequency cavities, with applications ranging from accelerator physics to quantum devices. | Fermilab | |
Hannes Bernien | For the development of optical tweezer arrays to realize control of individual atoms for applications in quantum information science, metrology, and molecular physics. | University of Chicago | |
Manuel Endres | California Institute of Technology | ||
Adam M. Kaufman | JILA | ||
Kang-Kuen Ni | Harvard University | ||
Hannes Pichler | University of Innsbruck Austrian Academy of Sciences | ||
Jeff Thompson | Princeton University | ||
2024^{[23]} | Michael Johnson | For elucidating the sub-structure and universal characteristics of black hole photon rings, and their proposed detection by next-generation interferometric experiments. | Harvard–Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics |
Alexandru Lupsasca | Vanderbilt University | ||
Mikhail Ivanov | For contributions to our understanding of the large-scale structure of the universe and the development of new tools to extract fundamental physics from galaxy surveys. | Massachusetts Institute of Technology | |
Oliver Philcox | Columbia University and Simons Foundation | ||
Marko Simonović | University of Florence | ||
Laura M. Pérez | For the prediction, discovery, and modeling of dust traps in young circumstellar disks, solving a long-standing problem in planet formation. | University of Chile | |
Paola Pinilla | University College London | ||
Nienke van der Marel | Leiden Observatory | ||
Til Birnstiel | Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich |
The Fundamental Physics Prize trophy, a work of art created by Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson,^{[26]} is a silver sphere with a coiled vortex inside. The form is a toroid, or doughnut shape, resulting from two sets of intertwining three-dimensional spirals. Found in nature, these spirals are seen in animal horns, nautilus shells, whirlpools, and even galaxies and black holes.^{[27]}
The name of the 2013 prize winner was unveiled at the culmination of a ceremony which took place on the evening of March 20, 2013 at the Geneva International Conference Centre.^{[28]} The ceremony was hosted by Hollywood actor and science enthusiast Morgan Freeman.^{[29]} The evening honored the 2013 laureates − 16 outstanding scientists including Stephen Hawking^{[30]} and CERN scientists who led the decades-long effort to discover the Higgs-like particle at the Large Hadron Collider.^{[31]} Sarah Brightman and Russian pianist Denis Matsuev performed for the guests of the ceremony.
Some have expressed reservations about such new science mega-prizes.^{[32]}
What's not to like? Quite a lot, according to a handful of scientists... You cannot buy class, as the old saying goes, and these upstart entrepreneurs cannot buy their prizes the prestige of the Nobels. The new awards are an exercise in self-promotion for those behind them, say scientists. They could distort the meritocracy of peer-review-led research. They could cement the status quo of peer-reviewed research. They do not fund peer-reviewed research. They perpetuate the myth of the lone genius.... As much as some scientists may grumble about the new awards, the financial doping that they bring to research and the wisdom of the goals behind them, two things seem clear. First, most researchers would accept such a prize if they were offered one. Second, it is surely a good thing that the money and attention come to science rather than go elsewhere. It is fair to criticize and question the mechanism—that is the culture of research, after all—but it is the prize-givers' money to do with as they please. It is wise to accept such gifts with gratitude and grace.^{[33]}