The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia has awarded the 2010 Benjamin Franklin Medal in Physics to three pioneers in quantum computing: Ignacio Cirac, director of the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany); David J. Wineland, a physicist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Boulder (USA); and Peter Zoller, a professor at the University of Innsbruck (Austria).
The three scientists won for "their theoretical proposal and experimental realization of the first device that performs elementary computer-logic operations using the quantum properties of individual atoms." Their discoveries are used for processing and decoding computer information.
The Franklin awards for achievements in chemistry, life sciences, physics, and other sciences and technologies were first bestowed in 1824.
Recipients include Nobel Prize winners such as Albert Einstein and Marie Curie as well as the 2009 winners in physics, Charles Kao, Willard Boyle and George Smith.
More on the 2010 Benjamin Franklin Medal in Physics and on how quantum computing is being used to solve problems such as breaking data encryption codes: