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Oxford university astrophysicist studying the evolution of the universe, focusing on the cosmic microwave background (light left over from the Big Bang). As part of Nasa’s WMAP satellite science team, obtained the most accurate estimates of how much dark energy and dark matter exist in the universe – work which led the Institute of Physics to award her its 2013 Maxwell Medal.
A theoretical nuclear astrophysicist concentrating on the origin of the elements. In 2007, discovered the neutrino p-process, which helps explain and predict the behaviour of certain stars. Based at North Carolina State University. Received the US Department of Energy Early Career Research Award 2013.
Aged 37, professor of physics and electrical engineering at Bristol university and director of its Centre for Quantum Photonics. Own research includes developing quantum computers that eventually could outperform the most powerful electronic supercomputers. Awarded the Bates Prize earlier this year by the Institute of Physics for achievements in the field of quantum effects in optical systems.
Cambridge-based experimental condensed matter physicist. Is developing the next generation of superconductors – materials with no electrical resistance that carry 100 times more current than copper. Research has huge implications for sustainable energy solutions.
Byung Hee Hong
Aged 42, at Seoul National University. Has been at the forefront of research into the synthesis of large-scale graphene and identifying its practical applications. Works alongside a team that includes four Nobel laureates at the European Graphene Flagship project.
Computational physicist, 34, who this year, within the space of a few days, received awards from both the US National Science Foundation and the US Department of Energy. Based at the University of South Florida, her research includes work that could advance solid-state refrigeration technology.
Quantum physicist, 45. Was still a PhD student when she developed a prototype device for detecting gravitational waves – the ripples that radiate from massive objects. This work contributed to the design of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (Ligo) in the US. Now a professor at MIT.
Research focus is neutrinos, which he describes as “the most elusive of the observed elementary particles”. Massive neutrinos can help explain dark matter and the evolution of the universe. Works at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California. Has just been awarded the 2014 American Physical Society’s Henry Primakoff Award for Early-Career Particle Physics.
Subatomic physicist whose main aim is to identify the most accurate theory of particle physics, going beyond the Standard Model. Based in Sweden at the Nordic Institute for Theoretical Physics (Nordita), she is a rising leader in quantum gravity research, a young field that explores the interplay between the theory of general relativity and quantum mechanics.
Ana Maria Rey
Atomic physicist aged 36 and one of this year’s MacArthur Fellows – recipients of the so-called Genius Grant. Based at the University of Colorado, specialises in ultra-cold atoms, slowing the particles down and manipulating them with lasers.
Rey hopes her research will help develop specialised materials such as superfluids, which can defy gravity and flow up vertical surfaces.