As I did last year, I’m trying to make predictions of who could get a Nobel prize. The past year has been marked by the quantum supremacy claimed by John Martini’s team at Google Quantum. In fact, this discovery was only possible thanks to fundamental advances, both in physics and chemistry in the past few decades.

Particularly, Alain Aspect, John Clauser and Anton Zeilinger were recognised a decade ago by the Wolf prize for “fundamental conceptual and experimental contributions to the foundations of quantum physics, specifically an increasingly sophisticated series of tests of Bell’s inequalities.” The breaking of Bell’s inequalities originates in entanglement, that plays a fundamental role in the building of a quantum computer. I note that the last prize in fundamental quantum physics has been awarded in 2012 (to Serge Haroche and David Wineland for manipulation of individual quantum systems), that is quite a long time ago.

The making of Google’s processor has been achieved thanks to etching techniques, allowed by chemistry. Patterns on the chip are made through coating of a photoresist onto silicon. Shining light onto the chip would polymerise it, making easier or harder to remove the underlying silicon. Two chemists stand out in this field, having making groundbreaking advances in engineering chemically amplified photoresists: C. Grant Willson and Jean Fréchet.

My prediction for the Nobel Prize in Physics this year would be Alain Aspect, John Clauser and Anton Zeilinger, and in Chemistry C. Grant Willson and Jean Frechet. I eventually compiled a list of possible nominations with a few details for these two Nobel prizes:

Physics predictions

  • Alain Aspect, John Clauser and Anton Zeilinger, for their fundamental and experimental contributions to quantum physics and validation of Bell’s inequalities;
  • Lene Hau and Steve Harris for their work on ultracold gases that slow down and even stop light, leading to electromagnetically induced transparency and studies in nonlinear optics.
  • Sandra Faber, Margaret Geller, and Helen Quinn for dark matter;
  • Yakir Aharonov and Michael Berry for their seminal work on the geometric phase in quantum mechanics. Yoseph Imry might also be a good contender in this field. I would be very happy to see them being awarded this year as it is condensed matter and I’ve been working on similar fields for a year now.

Chemistry predictions

  • C. Grant Willson and Jean Frechet for their work on polymers for chemically-amplified photoresists.
  • Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier for their studies of CRISPR/Cas9. edit: were awarded “for the development of a method for genome editing”
  • Omar Yaghi for MOFs and pioneering work in porous materials;
  • Cato Laurencin, Kristi Anseth and Robert Langer for tissue engineering.

Who do you think will get it this year? Engage on twitter!