The 2016 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to British scientists David J Thouless from the University of Washington, F Duncan M Haldane from Princeton University and J Michael Kosterlitz, a professor at Brown University. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences decided to hand them the grant for their studies, which have "revealed the secrets of exotic matter", and "theoretical discoveries of topological phase transitions and topological phases of matter".

The laureates were recognised for their use of "advanced mathematical methods to study unusual phases, or states, of matter, such as superconductors, superfluids or thin magnetic films". Their research has paved the way for the study of new exotic phases of matter and their practical applications in science and electronics.

The scientists used topology – a branch of mathematics – to explain their theories. In the 1980s, Thouless simplified an earlier study with slim electrically conducting layers in which conductance was accurately gauged as integer steps. Haldane found how topological concepts can be used to understand the properties of small magnetic chains in some materials.

One half of the 8-million Swedish krona prize money will be awarded to Thouless, while the rest will be split between Haldane and Kosterlitz. The Nobel prizes are awarded by the Nobel Foundation, established on the instructions issued by the inventor of dynamite, Alfred Nobel. The 2016 Nobel Prize for Medicine was awarded to Japanese cell biologist Yoshinori Ohsumi on Monday.