The Nobel Prize in Physics has been awarded to three British-born scientists for revealing the secrets of unusual states of matter, leading to advances in electronics.

David Thouless, Duncan Haldane and Michael Kosterlitz will share the prize money of 8m kronor (£729,000). 

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said the trio opened the door to an unknown world where matter takes unusual states or phases.

It said: This year’s laureates opened the door on an unknown world where matter can assume strange states. 

They have used advanced mathematical methods to study unusual phases, or states, of matter, such as superconductors, superfluids or thin magnetic films. 

Thanks to their pioneering work, the hunt is now on for new and exotic phases of matter.

Speaking by a phone link to a news conference in Stockholm, Professor Haldane said he was very surprised and very gratified to win.  

The three professors, who now live and work in the US, carried out their research in the 1970s and 1980s. 

Nobel judges often award discoveries made decades ago, to make sure they withstand the test of time.

The trio’s discoveries began the hunt for new materials that may have applications in electronics, magnetic devices and quantum computing. 

The jury said the award was for theoretical discoveries of topological phase transitions and topological phases of matter.

Topology, in which the three laureates specialise, is the study of properties of objects that are not changed when they are distorted. 

In a lecture following the annoucement, Nobel committee member Thors Hans Hansson explained the concept of topology using a cinnamon bun, a bagel and a pretzel.

Professor Thouless, 82, from the University of Washingon, Seattle, will receive half the prize money. 

The rest will be shared between Professor Haldane, 65, from Princeton University, and Professor Kosterlitz, 73, from Brown University.

Professor Thouless was born in Bearsden, East Dunbartonshire, Professor Kosterlitz in Aberdeen and Professor Haldane in London.

This year’s Nobel Prize announcements started on Monday.

The medicine award went to Japanese biologist Yoshinori Ohsumi for discoveries on autophagy, the process by which a cell breaks down and recycles content.

The chemistry prize will be announced on Wednesday and the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday. 

The economics and literature awards will be announced next week.

Winners will also collect a medal and a diploma at award ceremonies on 10 December, the anniversary of prize founder Alfred Nobel’s death in 1896.

(c) Sky News 2016

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