Three former Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics (KITP) postdocs, Sean Hartnoll (Stanford University), Shinsei Ryu (University of Illinois), and Tadashi Takayanagi (Kyoto University), were among the recipients of the 2015 New Horizons Prize awarded by the Breakthrough Prize Foundation.
All three received the award for work begun at the KITP. This work created a new field, which connects the physics of black holes to the behavior of ordinary condensed matter systems. Hartnoll showed that the properties of an exotic state known as a quantum critical point could be related to those of a black hole. Ryu and Takayanagi discovered holographic entanglement entropy, which relates the quantum entanglement of matter to properties of the black hole horizon, and which may be a key to the origin of spacetime.
This continues a long KITP tradition of interdisciplinary work in high energy physics and condensed matter physics. Takayanagi said: "We are really so grateful for the wonderful atmosphere and environment in KITP which encourages the discussions between theoretical physics researchers in various subjects. Particle theorists and condensed matter theorists are living in the same building and same floor.'' Ryu added: "I also miss the good mixture of theorists of all kinds at KITP. I enjoyed a lot to sneak into some high-energy physics talks while I was at KITP. It is my belief that condensed matter theorists and high-energy physicists can get inspirations from each other. Let me also comment that while Tadashi and I were collaborating, there was a KITP workshop going on: "Topological Phases and Quantum Computation". It focused on fresh insights on many-body physics coming from quantum information perspective. Tadashi and I went to several talks, which educated us on quantum entanglement. So, all these things happened at the right timing at the right place.”