The five prize-winners pioneered experiments on single crystals of large molecules with magnetic properties - such as manganese acetate and the iron-based Fe8 spin cluster. By studying the quantum tunnelling of magnetization in such large systems, it was possible to probe the boundary between quantum and classical mechanics. The official citation states that the prize has been awarded “for developing the field of quantum dynamics of nanomagnets, including the discovery of quantum tunnelling and interference in dynamics of magnetisation.”

The EPS has also announced several other prizes. Eddy Lingeman of the NIKHEF laboratory in the Netherlands receives the Gero Thomas Memorial Medal for outstanding contributions to the EPS. The Joint EPS/BPU Medal in Environmental Physics will be shared by Ivar Isaksen of the Centre for International Climate and Environmental Research in Oslo, Norway, Guy Brasseur of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg, and Wei-Chyung Wang of the State University of New York at Albany. Isaksen, Brasseur and Wang share the prize for outstanding contributions to environmental physics

The High Energy Particle Physics Public Outreach Prize is awarded to Michael Kobel of Bonn University in Germany for his work in bringing high-energy particle physics into schools in Germany, while the EPS Public Understanding of Physics Prize goes to Rafel Carreras of CERN. James Phillip Elliott of Sussex University in the UK and Francesco Iachello of Yale University in the US share the Lise Meitner Prize for their innovative applications of group theoretical methods to the understanding of atomic nuclei.

The EPS quantum electronics and optics division also announced its awards recently. Serge Haroche of the Ecole Normale Supérieure and the Collège de France won the division’s prize for fundamental research, while Wilson Sibbett of St Andrews University in Scotland received the prize for applied research. The winners of the Fresnel prize for young physicists were Rüdiger Paschotta of ETH-Zurich in Switzerland (applied) and Carlo Sirtori of Thales in France (fundamental).