Professor Nicholas Kurti

The European prize for physics is named after Professor Nicholas Kurti (1908-1998). Professor Kurti is known for his distinguished work in ultra-low temperature physics at the Clarendon Laboratory, Oxford University. In fact, this location earned the name “the coldest spot on earth” as a consequence of the ground-breaking research conducted there. Using nuclear demagnetisation in conjunction with helium dilution refrigerators of nuclear alignment, Professor Kurti was able to create temperatures of a millionth of a degree above absolute zero.

There is a strong connection between Oxford Instruments and Professor Kurti. Sir Martin Wood, the founder and deputy chairman of Oxford Instruments, held the Senior Research Officer position at the Clarendon Laboratory in the 1950s with responsibility for the engineering facility of the high magnetic field section of the laboratory which was directed by Nicholas Kurti. When Professor Kurti retired, he decided to apply his low temperature physics knowledge to the kitchen. He created a new science, Molecular Gastronomy, the application of scientific principles to the understanding and improvement of small scale food preparation. Chefs, scientists and food writers around the world have developed the subject since his death in 1998.

Oxford Instruments NanoScience would like to thank Mrs Giana Kurti for her agreement to name the prize after her late husband.