Breakthrough of the Year kudos from Physics World have gone to optics research by Institute for Quantum Computing postdoc Krister Shalm and University of Toronto team.
An experiment conducted by IQC postdoctoral fellow Krister Shalm and colleagues at the University of Toronto has been named Breakthrough of the Year by Physics World.
The research, published in Science earlier this year, provided an unprecedented glimpse at the mysterious goings-on within the famous "double-slit" experiment — a classic demonstration of quantum mechanics.
The ingenuity of the research and the relevance of its results inspired Physics World to rank the experiment first in its Top Ten Breakthroughs for 2011.
The research "stood out because it challenges the widely held notion that quantum mechanics forbids us any knowledge of the paths taken by individual photons (in the double-slit experiment)," explained the Physics World article.
"Using an emerging technique called "weak measurement," the team is the first to track the average paths of single photons passing through a Young's double-slit experiment – something that Steinberg says physicists had been "brainwashed" into thinking is impossible."
IQC postdoc Krister Shalm, who worked with the U of T research team during his doctoral studies there, said topping the Physics World list is "humbling" and "an unexpected surprise."
"I am delighted to see the study of quantum foundations get such prominent recognition," said Shalm. "I hope this encourages people to continue investigating fundamental issues in quantum mechanics using techniques like weak measurements, which allow us to ask questions many of us previously thought were impossible."