Devoret, Schoelkopf awarded Comstock Prize in Physics for quantum advances

Yale News
Monday, January 22, 2024
The National Academy of Sciences recognized Michel Devoret and Robert Schoelkopf for their innovative work in quantum information processing.

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) has awarded the prestigious Comstock Prize in Physics to Yale researchers Michel Devoret and Robert Schoelkopf for their groundbreaking work in quantum information processing and related fields.

Both are members of the Yale School of Engineering & Applied Science (Yale Engineering) and have secondary appointments in Yale’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS).

The Comstock Prize is awarded once every five years to one or more North American physicists whose recent work includes an innovative discovery or investigation in electricity, magnetism, or radiant energy. Many previous recipients of the prize, first awarded in 1913, have gone on to become Nobel laureates.

Devoret and Schoelkopf were recognized for their development and practical application of “Circuit QED” (circuit quantum electrodynamics), which allows quantum information to be distributed by microwave signals on wires. The strong coupling of quantum data (qubits) and photons in Circuit QED paved the way for a growing number of applications in quantum computing and sensing.

Their close collaboration has transformed the way we think about quantum information, quantum optics, and the quantum world in general, leading us into a new era of research and application,” prize organizers said.

Devoret, Schoelkopf, and Steven Girvin, the Eugene Higgins Professor of Physics at FAS, along with several hundred collaborators and colleagues, recently celebrated the 20th anniversary of the publication of the first scientific studies relating to Circuit QED.

Devoret is the Frederick W. Beinecke Professor of Applied Physics at Yale Engineering with a secondary appointment in physics at FAS. He is a member of the NAS, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the French Academy of Sciences. He is the recipient of the Micius Quantum Prize (together with John Clarke and Yasunobu Nakamura); the Ampere Prize of the French Academy of Science (with Daniel Esteve); the Descartes-Huygens Prize of the Royal Academy of Science of the Netherlands; the Europhysics-Agilent Prize of the European Physical Society (with Esteve, Hans Mooij, and Nakamura); and the Olli Lounasmaa Memorial Prize of Aalto University.

Schoelkopf is a Sterling Professor of Applied Physics at Yale Engineering with a secondary appointment in physics in FAS. He is a member of NAS, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering. He has received numerous awards and honors including recognition as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Physical Society. He is the winner of the Connecticut Medal of Science and is a member of the National Quantum Initiative Advisory Committee.

Together, Devoret and Schoelkopf were also winners of the John Stewart Bell Prize and the Fritz London Memorial Prize (with John Martinis).

They are also founding members, along with Luigi Frunzio, of the Yale startup firm Quantum Circuits Inc., and both are members of the Yale Quantum Institute (Schoelkopf is director of the institute).

The Comstock Prize comes with a $50,000 prize and another $50,000 to support the recipients’ research.

- Jim Shelton - Yale News