Bristol physicists win prize for sub-atomic breakthrough

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The Independent Online
Michael Berry, a British physicist based at Bristol University, and Israeli physicist Yakir Aharonov, who got his PhD at Bristol, have won the 1998 Wolf Prize in physics for their research work in quantum mechanics. They will share the $100,000 (pounds 62,500) prize, the Wolf Foundation, based in Israel, announced yesterday.

The two men won the prize for their discovery of important characteristics in the behaviour of subatomic particles. The foundation cited their "discovery of quantum topological and geometrical phases, specifically the Aharonov- Bohm effect, the Berry phase, and their incorporation into many fields of physics."

Their research "has stimulated and motivated a large amount of theoretical and experimental activity in widely different fields of physics over the last 30 years," the foundation said.

Professor Aharanov, born in 1932, received his PhD from Bristol University. In 1959, he and the late David Bohm successfully predicted the behaviour of a charged subatomic particle, such as an electron, under certain circumstances - which became known as the Aharonov-Bohm effect. Professor Berry expanded on that work, and his findings are now seen as "an integral part of modern quantum physics".