Born: 6 November 1932, Etterbeek, Belgium
Affiliation at the time of the award: Université Libre de Bruxelles, Brussels, Belgium
Prize motivation: "for the theoretical discovery of a mechanism that contributes to our understanding of the origin of mass of subatomic particles, and which recently was confirmed through the discovery of the predicted fundamental particle, by the ATLAS and CMS experiments at CERN's Large Hadron Collider"
Field: particle physics
Prize share: 1/2
François Englert was born in Etterbeek, Belgium. His family was of Jewish origin and during the German occupation of Belgium during World War II, he concealed his Jewish roots and hid at different orphanages. He was first educated as an electrical-mechanical engineer and later received his Ph.D. in physics in 1959 from the Université Libre de Bruxelles. After spending two years at Cornell University in the U.S., François Englert returned to Université Libre de Bruxelles, where he has continued his work. François Englert is married with five children.
According to modern physics, matter consists of a set of particles that act as building blocks. Between these particles lie forces that are mediated by another set of particles. A fundamental property of the majority of particles is that they have a mass. Independently of one another, in 1964 both Peter Higgs and the team of François Englert and Robert Brout proposed a theory about the existence of a particle that explains why other particles have a mass. In 2012, two experiments conducted at the CERN laboratory confirmed the existence of the Higgs particle.