Physicist Aharonov Awarded $1 Million EMET Prize

Posted: November 7, 2006 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

Yakir Aharonov
Yakir Aharonov
Photo courtesy University of South Carolina

Quantum theorist Yakir Aharonov, who joined the Mason faculty this semester, was awarded the $1 million EMET Prize, given annually for excellence in academic and professional achievements that have a far-reaching influence and make a significant contribution to society.

This award, which he will share with several other scholars, is given by the Israeli AMN Foundation for the Advancement of Science, Art and Culture.

Aharonov received the award during a ceremony on Nov. 5 in Jerusalem for “elucidating the principles of quantum theory, for being a pioneer and a leader in the exploration of the profound meanings of this theory and for his unique discoveries that have had an impact on various fields in physics,” according to the EMET Prize committee.

The EMET Prize is awarded annually in the areas of exact sciences, life sciences, social sciences, humanities and Judaism and art and culture. Aharonov shares the prize with physicist Yoseph Imry and geologist Zvi Garfunkel in the exact sciences category.

Aharonov, who previously held faculty appointments at Tel Aviv University in Israel and the University of South Carolina, holds tenure in the Department of Computational and Data Sciences and the Department of Physics and is a Distinguished Professor of Quantum Information Science in the newly formed Center for Quantum Studies at George Mason. The center is directed by assistant professor Jeff Tollaksen.

In 1998, Aharonov was co-recipient of the Wolf Prize for the discovery of the Aharonov-Bohm Effect, which he made with the late physicist David Bohm. The Aharonov-Bohm Effect is one of a small number of cornerstones for optimizing quantum coherence in principle and in applications.

His work has had a wide impact in many areas of modern physics, including optics, nuclear physics, chemistry and laser and molecular physics. Some of the practical ramifications for the Aharonov-Bohm Effect include improving the technology in electron microscope holography, which is used in modern medical scanners, and quantum computing.

Aharonov’s research focus has been central in the strategic planning and vision of the College of Science, headed by Co-Deans Menas Kafatos and Vikas Chandhoke, who promoted this as one of their principal goals.

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