Science of 'exotic' states of matter lands Nobel physics prize

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STOCKHOLM, Oct 4 (Reuters) - British-born scientists David Thouless, Duncan Haldane and Michael Kosterlitz won the 2016 Nobel Prize for Physics on Tuesday for their studies of unusual states of matter, which may open up new applications in electronics.

Their discoveries, using advanced mathematics, had boosted research in condensed matter physics and raised hopes for uses in new generations of electronics and superconductors or future quantum computers, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said.

Memorable Nobel Peace Prize winners

Memorable Nobel Peace Prize winners through history
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Memorable Nobel Peace Prize winners through history
2015 Nobel Peace Prize Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT)'s secretary general, Houcine Abassi, poses for a photo in Sao Paulo on October 11, 2015. Abassi was awarded the Peace Prize along with the other members of the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet -Tunisian Confederation of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts (UTICA) Tunisian Human Rights League (LTDH) and Tunisian Order of Lawyers--the Norwegian Nobel Commitee announced, for helping rescue the only democracy that emerged from the Arab Spring, in a hugely symbolic show of support for the country after a wave of jihadist attacks. AFP PHOTO / MIGUELSCHINCARIOL (Photo credit should read Miguel Schincariol/AFP/Getty Images)
President of the Tunisian Human Rights League (LTDH), Abdessattar Ben Moussa, poses for pictures in Tunis on October 9, 2015, after he was awarded the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize with other members of Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet. The Norwegian Nobel Commitee announced that Tunisian mediators of the so called National Dialogue Quartet (Tunisian General Labour Union UGTT, Confederation of Industry, Tunisian Trade and Handicrafts UTICA, Tunisian Human Rights League LTDH and Tunisian Order of Lawyers) won the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize. AFP PHOTO / FETHI BELAID (Photo credit should read FETHI BELAID/AFP/Getty Images)
A combo of pictures taken on October 9, 2015 January 7, 2015 in Tunis shows (LtoR from up) President of the Tunisian employers union (UTICA) Wided Bouchamaoui; Tunisian lawyer Fadhel Mahfoudh; President of the Tunisian Human Rights League (LTDH), Abdessattar ben Moussa and Secretary General of the Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT) Houcine Abbassi. Tunisian mediators of the socalled National Dialogue Quartet (Tunisian General Labour Union UGTT, Tunisian Confederation of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts UTICA, Tunisian Human Rights League LTDH and Tunisian Order of Lawyers) won the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize, the Norwegian Nobel Commitee announced on October 9, 2015. AFP PHOTO / FETHI BELAID (Photo credit should read FETHI BELAID/AFP/Getty Images)
FILE - In this Sept. 26, 1944, file photo, Staff Aide Jane Steward, an American Red Cross worker, lights a cigarette for a wounded French gendarme at a U.S. evacuation hospital in Brittany. In 1944, the Red Cross was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for the second time, having also won it in 1917. It then claimed the award for what still is a record third time in 1963. (AP Photo, File)
FILE - In this Dec. 10, 1964 file photo, Dr. Martin Luther King looks at his Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway. King was recognized for his leadership in the American civil rights movement and for advocating non-violence. (AP Photo, File)
FILE - In this October 16, 1973 file photo, US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, left, is congratulated by President Richard Nixon in the Oval office of the White House, following the announcement that Kissinger was a joint winner of the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize. Kissinger and North Vietnamese diplomat Lo Duc Tho won the prize for their efforts in ending the Vietnam war, one of the most controversial decisions made in the history of the Nobel Peace Prize. Le Duc Tho declined the award. (AP Photo, File)
FILE - In this March 26, 1979, file photo Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, left, U.S. President Jimmy Carter, center, and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin clasp hands on the north lawn of the White House after signing the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel. Sadat and Begin were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1978. Carter received the Nobel Peace Prize himself in 2002 "for his decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts." (AP Photo/ Bob Daugherty, File)
FILE - In this 1978, file photo, Mother Teresa, head of the Missionaries of Charity order, cradles an armless baby girl at her order's orphanage in what was then known as Calcutta, India, in 1978. A champion among the poor in India, Mother Teresa received the Nobel Peace Prize for 1979. An Albanian, she went to India in 1928 to teach at a convent school, taking her final vows as a Roman Catholic nun in 1937, and opened her House for the Dying in 1952. (AP Photo/Eddie Adams, File)
FILE - In this June 17, 1983, file photo, Lech Walesa, leader of the former Solidarity Union, reacts to cheers by his fellow workers as he leaves the Lenin Shipyards in Gdansk, Poland. Walesa won the Nobel Peace Prize that year, for his efforts in organizing free trade unions and strikes which symbolized political freedom for Poland, but he did not attend the ceremony. In 1990, Walesa became a freely elected president of Poland. (AP Photo/Langevin, File)
FILE - In this Dec. 10, 1989 file photo, His Holiness the Dalai Lama displays the Nobel Peace Prize and medallion during ceremonies at Oslo University's Avla Hall. The 14th Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled political and spiritual leader, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of his nonviolent campaign to end Chinese domination of Tibet. (AP Photo/Pool, Norwegian News Agency, Inge Gjellesvik, File)
FILE - In this June 5, 1991 file photo, Soviet president Mikhail S. Gorbachev receives applause from the audience in Oslo as he enters the lecture hall to deliver his long-delayed Nobel Peace lecture. Gorbachev, who was awarded the 1990 Nobel Peace Prize, was hugely influential in bringing an end to the Cold War that had persisted since World War II. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)
FILE - In this Dec. 10, 1993 file photo, South African Deputy President F.W. de Klerk, right, and South African President Nelson Mandela pose with their Nobel Peace Prize Gold Medals and Diplomas in Oslo. The Nobel Committee praised the pair "for their work for the peaceful termination of the apartheid regime, and for laying the foundations for a new democratic South Africa." (AP Photo/FILE)
FILE - In this Dec. 10, 1994 file photo, PLO leader Yasser Arafat, left, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, centre, and Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres pose with their medals and diplomas, after receiving the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo's City Hall. The three men received the prize for "for their efforts to create peace in the Middle East." The award was designed to give a boost to peace efforts in the Middle East. It didn't. The process collapsed and Rabin was assassinated the following year by an ultra-nationalist Israeli who opposed his peace moves. (AP Photo, File)
FILE - In this file photo dated Wednesday Dec. 9, 1998, the 1998 Nobel Peace Prize winners John Hume, right, and David Trimble, at the Grand Hotel in Oslo. The Nobel Committee praised the pair "for their efforts to find a peaceful solution to the conflict in Northern Ireland" and their roles in delivering the Good Friday accord earlier in the year. The peace has largely held since. (AP Photo/Jon Eeg, FILE)
FILE - In this Friday, Oct. 15, 1999, file photo, Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) International Committee President James Orbinsky, left, and President of MSF-France Philippe Biberson hug at the Paris headquarters after the non-governmental organization was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition for its "pioneering humanitarian work on several continents". (AP Photo/Michel Lipchitz, File)
FILE - In this Thursday, Dec. 10, 2009, file photo, US President Barack Obama speaks at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony at City Hall in Oslo, Thursday, Dec. 10, 2009. The Nobel Committee awarded the prize to Obama, who only became president in early 2009, "for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples." Obama was the third sitting US president to win the award, following Theodore Roosevelt in 1906 and Woodrow Wilson in 1919. (AP Photo/Odd Andersen, File)
FILE - In this Monday, Dec. 10, 2012 file photo, Poland's Prime Minister Donald Tusk, left, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, center, and French President Francois Hollande applaud during the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony, at the City Hall in Oslo. The European Union received the Nobel Peace Prize for promoting "peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights" in Europe for six decades following the devastation of World War II. (AP Photo/Yves Logghe, File)
FILE - In this Monday, Dec. 8, 2014 file photo, joint Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, aged 17, briefly speaks to the media as she arrives at her hotel after flying to Oslo, to receive her award. Malala, who won the prize along with Indian children's rights activist Kailash Satyarti, was the youngest-ever recipient of the award. The Nobel Committee praised the two for "their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education." (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, File)

"Thanks to their pioneering work, the hunt is now on for new and exotic phases of matter," the academy said in a statement awarding the 8 million Swedish crown ($937,000) prize.

"Many people are hopeful of future applications in both materials science and electronics."

Thouless was awarded half the prize with the other half divided between Haldane and Kosterlitz. Nils Martensson, acting chairman of the Nobel Committee for Physics, told a news conference the winners had discovered a set of totally unexpected regularities in the behavior of matter.

"This has paved the way for designing new materials with novel properties and there is great hope that this will be important for many future technologies," he said.

Surprising Nobel Prize nominees

Surprising/Shocking Nobel Prize Nominees
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Surprising/Shocking Nobel Prize Nominees
Premier Benito Mussolini, of Italy and leader of the Italian Fascists, poses for camera, November 22, 1923. (AP Photo)
A portrait of Adolf Hitler, head of the Fascist movement in Germany taken around Nov. 4, 1930, wearing his Fascist uniform. (AP Photo)
Russian Premier Josef Stalin at Teheran in 1943. (AP-Photo)
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 20: Pictures in a program for the memorial service for executed co-founder of the Crips gang Stanley 'Tookie' Williams show him at an early age on December 20, 2005 in Los Angeles, California. After his days as a Crip, Williams was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his anti-gang efforts. Williams had also co-authored such books as, 'Life in Prison,' encouraging kids to stay out of gangs, and his memoir, 'Blue Rage, Black Redemption.' (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
PALM BEACH GARDENS, FL - MARCH 15: Rush Limbaugh during the Els for Autism Pro-Am on the Champions Course at the PGA National Golf Club on March 15, 2010 in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
SOCHI, RUSSIA - OCTOBER 08: Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting for Russia's Teacher of the Year Competition at the Sirius education center for children on October 8, 2015 in Sochi, Russia, Vladimir Putin, who turned 63 on Wednesday, is having a work trip to Sochi. (Photo by Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images)

Physics is the second of this year's crop of Nobels and comes after Japan's Yoshinori Ohsumi was awarded the prize for medicine on Monday.

As Nobel physics laureates, the trio of researchers join the ranks of some of the greatest names in science, including Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr and Marie Curie.

The prizes were first awarded in 1901 to honor achievements in science, literature and peace in accordance with the will of the Swedish dynamite inventor and business tycoon Alfred Nobel, who left much of his wealth to establish the award.

For a graphic on Nobel laureates, click on:

($1 = 8.5364 Swedish crowns) (Reporting by Anna Ringstrom, Bjorn Rundstrom, Simon Johnson and Johan Ahlander; Writing by Niklas Pollard; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

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