Gilles Brassard wins 2023 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics

Gilles Brassard, Charles H. Bennett, David Deutsch and Peter Shor were awarded the world’s largest science prize for their foundational work in quantum information. Brassard is currently hosted at QuSoft at NWO institute CWI.

Publication date: 26-09-2022

Gilles Brassard (Université de Montréal) was awarded the 2023 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics for his foundational work in quantum information, the world’s largest science prize. He shares this prize with Charles H. Bennett, David Deutsch and Peter Shor. Until November 2022, Brassard performs as 'Turing Chair for Quantum Software' at UvA, and he is hosted at QuSoft at NWO institute CWI.

Gilles Brassard is best known for his fundamental work in quantum cryptography, quantum teleportation, quantum entanglement distillation, quantum pseudo-telepathy, and the classical simulation of quantum entanglement. Some of the concepts he derived, have since then been implemented in the laboratory.

In 1984, together with Charles H. Bennett, he invented the ‘BB84’ protocol for quantum cryptography. This is generally considered the first quantum cryptography protocol. He later extended this work to include the Cascade error correction protocol, which performs efficient detection and correction of noise caused by eavesdropping on quantum cryptographic signals. These type of protocols are used nowadays for sharing public keys in a quantum secure way, in so called ‘Quantum Key Distribution’ (QKD) schemes.

Prizes and Awards

Brassard was the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Cryptology from 1991 to 1998. In 2000, he won the Prix Marie-Victorin, the highest scientific award of the government of Québec. He was elected as a Fellow of the International Association for Cryptologic Research in 2006. In June 2010, he was awarded the Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal, Canada’s highest scientific honour. Gilles Brassard was also elected as Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and the Royal Society of London (2013).

On 30 December 2013 Gilles Brassard was named as an Officer in the Order Of Canada. In 2018 he received the Wolf Prize in Physics and in 2019 the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in Basic Sciences.

About his presence in The Netherlands

Besides laying the foundation for the research field many researchers within QuSoft are working on, Gilles Brassard has been involved in QuSoft from its inception in 2015. QuSoft is the Dutch research center for quantum software & technology. Launched by CWI and UvA in 2015, QuSoft builds on the institutions’ excellent track record in quantum computing and quantum information.  Brassard is also part of QuSoft's Scientific Advisory Board. He is a welcome and frequent guest of QuSoft and CWI, and was a key lecturer during the start of QuSoft.

Brassard’s first term as 'Turing Chair for Quantum Software' at the UvA (CWI's neighbour at the Amsterdam Science Park) was between December 2020 and May 2021. His most recent talk in the Netherlands was at the 7th General Assembly of the Quantum Software Consortium (QSC).

(Source: QuSoft)

About The Breakthrough Prize

For the eleventh year, the Breakthrough Prize, renowned as the “Oscars of Science,” recognizes the world’s top scientists. Each prize is $3 million and presented in the fields of Life Sciences, Fundamental Physics and Mathematics. In addition, up to three New Horizons in Physics Prizes, up to three New Horizons in Mathematics Prizes and up to three Maryam Mirzakhani New Frontiers Prizes are given out to early-career researchers each year. Laureates attend a gala award ceremony designed to celebrate their achievements and inspire the next generation of scientists. As part of the ceremony schedule, they also engage in a program of lectures and discussions.

The Breakthrough Prizes were founded by Sergey Brin, Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg, Julia and Yuri Milner, and Anne Wojcicki and have been sponsored by foundations established by them. Selection Committees composed of previous Breakthrough Prize laureates in each field choose the winners. Information on the Breakthrough Prize is available at breakthroughprize.org.