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Quantum computer boffin 'had to sit down' on getting Nobel Prize call

Deserved glory, trouserfuls of cash for French/US pair

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The Nobel Prize for physics has gone to French and US boffins for their work quantum manipulation.

Serge Haroche of Collège de France and David Wineland at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in the University of Colorado will share the prize and the £744,000 winnings that go with it for work on single photons and ions.

The Nobel committee said that the pair won for "ground-breaking experimental methods that enable measuring and manipulation of individual quantum systems".

The scientists' work has helped build laser-cooled atomic clocks and is a building block for the current research in quantum computing.

"Haroche and Wineland have made tremendous advances in our understanding of quantum entanglement, with beautiful experiments to show how atomic systems can be manipulated to exhibit the most extraordinary coherence properties; Haroche working with cavity quantum electrodynamics and Wineland with trapped ions," British physicist Sir Peter Knight said in response to the win. “Their work demonstrates very fundamental behaviour of quantum systems under complete control, and underpins quantum technologies relevant to quantum computing and atomic clocks."

Haroche told the press conference by telephone that he was walking with his wife when he got the call from the Nobel judges and spotted the Swedish country code.

"I was in the street and passing a bench so I was able to sit down," Haroche said. "It's very overwhelming." ®

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