The Nobel Prize in Physics

Awarded the first Nobel Prize in Physics, Wilhelm Röntgen discovered X-radiation. This X-ray tube became a frequently used instrument in medicine after this discovery.

© Nobel Media. Photo: Alexander Mahmoud

About the prize

“The said interest shall be divided into five equal parts, which shall be apportioned as follows: /- - -/ one part to the person who shall have made the most important discovery or invention within the field of physics ...” (Excerpt from the will of Alfred Nobel)

Physics was the prize area which Alfred Nobel mentioned first in his will from 1895. At the end of the nineteenth century, many people considered physics as the foremost of the sciences, and perhaps Nobel saw it this way as well. His own research was also closely tied to physics.

The Nobel Prize in Physics is awarded by The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Stockholm, Sweden.

See all physics laureates or learn more about the nomination process.

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All Nobel Prizes in Physics

A slide rule that Physics Laureate Toshihide Maskawa used as a high school student.

© Nobel Media. Photo: Alexander Mahmoud

The Nobel Prize in Physics 2020

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the Nobel Prize in Physics 2020 with one half to Roger Penrose “for the discovery that black hole formation is a robust prediction of the general theory of relativity" and the other half jointly to Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez "for the discovery of a supermassive compact object at the centre of our galaxy".

© Nobel Media. Ill. Niklas Elmehed.

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“I want to take this space to tell any budding scientist that, however bleak the future may seem due to illness or other problems, one cannot say you will not be successful.” Kosterlitz was diagnosed with MS in 1978.

J. Michael Kosterlitz

J. Michael Kosterlitz, Nobel Prize in Physics 2016

© Nobel Media. Photo: Alexander Mahmoud

Discover how the 2014 physics laureates tamed the unruly semiconductor gallium nitride, paving the way for blue LEDs. This efficient, versatile light source has been a boon to areas without electricity grids.

Blue LED and Reflection

The blue LED: an energy- efficient, environmentally-friendly light source

Photo: Public domain

Read what caused the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences to exclaim, “Here, at last!” The Higgs particle completed the Standard Model of particle physics which describes building blocks of the universe.

Portrait of Peter Higgs

Portrait of Peter Higgs, during a visit to CERN in 2008

© CERN 2008. Photo: Claudia Marcelloni

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