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.

The Nobel Prize in Physics 2021

This year’s Nobel Prize in Physics is awarded with one half jointly to Syukuro Manabe, Klaus Hasselmann and the other half to Giorgio Parisi. They have laid the foundation of our knowledge of the Earth’s climate and how humanity influences it, as well as revolutionized the theory of disordered materials and random processes.

©Johan Jarnestad/The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences

This year’s Nobel Prize in Physics is awarded with one half jointly to Syukuro Manabe, Klaus Hasselmann “for the physical modelling of Earth’s climate, quantifying variability and reliably predicting global warming” and the other half to Giorgio Parisi “for the discovery of the interplay of disorder and fluctuations in physical systems from atomic to planetary scales”.
Syukuro Manabe, Klaus Hasselmann, and Giorgio Parisi

Ill. Niklas Elmehed © Nobel Prize Outreach.

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Nobel Prizes and laureates

See the full list of prizes and laureates

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 three laureates shared the Nobel Prize in Physics 2020 for their discoveries about one of the most exotic phenomena in the universe, the black hole.

© Johan Jarnestad/The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences

Explore a new storytelling experience that celebrates and explores the contributions, careers and lives of the 19 women who have been awarded Nobel Prizes for their scientific achievements.
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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