Bas Hensen wins prize for best physics thesis
Bas Hensen has won the NWO Physics Thesis Award 2017 with his thesis ‘Quantum Nonlocality with Spins in Diamond’. In his thesis, Hensen – who conducted his PhD research at QuTech – outlines the world’s first loophole-free Bell test. The test provided conclusive proof of the existence of quantum entanglement. The award carries a cash prize of 10,000 euros.
The international press reported the loophole-free Bell test in 2015, as it proved that Einstein’s views on quantum theory were incorrect. In 1935, the renowned physicist asked himself a fundamental question about our universe: could, as predicted by the theory of quantum mechanics, the observation of an object instantaneously affect another object, even if that object is on the other side of the galaxy? Einstein refused to accept this, referring to this quantum entanglement, in which a particle is directly influenced by a measurement conducted on an entangled partner particle, as ‘spooky action at a distance’. The Bell test conducted by the TU Delft researchers provided the first conclusive proof that such quantum entanglement does indeed exist, even if the particles in question are separated by a large distance.
The NWO selection committee was impressed by both the substance and presentation of the thesis, and expressed their deep appreciation of Hensen’s efforts to explain his research to a broad audience. They also commended Hensen’s independence and his leadership role within his team.
Bas Hensen conducted the renowned experiment under the supervision of Prof. Ronald Hanson, who is currently director of research of QuTech, the quantum institute founded by TU Delft and the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO). On 29 April 2016, Hensen obtained his doctorate with distinction. Hanson is proud of his former doctoral candidate: ‘Bas has completed an exceptional experiment, showing scientific leadership throughout the entire process. QuTech is bursting with young talent, of which Bas is an outstanding example’.
Quantum chips of the future
In February 2017, Bas Hensen was also awarded an NWO Rubicon grant. With this grant, he is now continuing his academic career as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Centre for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology at the University of New South Wales. Hensen is working on a future quantum computer that will help us answer questions that are currently beyond the capabilities of even the fastest classical supercomputers. He is researching what silicon quantum chips will look like.
For additional information about Bas Hensen’s pioneering experiment at QuTech, see: qutech.nl/hansonlabloopholefreebelltest.