Quantum computers become the next technological revolution – researcher honored with H.C. Ørsted gold medal

Quantum computers become the next technological revolution – researcher honored with H.C. Ørsted gold medal

With the support of the energy company Ørsted, the Society for the Distribution of Nature Scholars awarded an H.C. Ørsted gold medal in physics to Professor Charles Marcus. His research brings the world closer to applied quantum technology, which can be as revolutionary as H.C. Ørsted's discovery of electromagnetism 200 years ago. The gold medal is presented by Her Majesty the Queen.

The Society for the Dissemination of Nature Doctrine (SNU) now honours Charles Marcus, who is Villum Kann Rasmussen professor at the Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen and head of Microsoft Quantum Lab – Copenhagen, with the Society's H.C. Ørsted gold medal in physics and a travel grant of 75,000 DKK. The recognition takes place in connection with the 200th anniversary of Hans Christian Ørsted's discovery of electromagnetism. The gold medal and the travel grant have been made possible with the support of the energy company Ørsted. The Carlsberg Foundation supports the festivities.

The medal has been awarded on the basis of recommendations from Danish universities and research institutions, and the professional assessment has been made by a committee of five members of the Royal Academy of Sciences and Letters.

Charles Marcus's research field is quantum electronics. With his groundbreaking experiments over 30 years, he has played a key role in the development of the field, which today is rapidly evolving towards real quantum technologies, where quantum mechanics can be reined in and utilized in quantum computers. A quantum computer will calculate according to principles other than traditional computers and will therefore be able to solve certain complex problems much faster than is possible today. The potential is so great that it is difficult to fully grasp the possibilities, but for example, quantum computers will be able to simulate large and complex molecules, allowing, among other things, medicines and vaccines to be designed through simulation rather than through discovery. Quantum-reinforced simulations can also help in the search for new materials with sought-after properties – for example, a material that is super-conductive at room temperature, so it can resist-free to transport power and thereby avoid the power loss that is happening in our wires today.

Professor Dorte Olesen, President of SNU says: "Charles Marcus is the epitome of a modern scientist and a highly deserving recipient of the H.C. Ørsted gold medal in physics. Like H.C. Ørsted himself, Charles Marcus is both a world-class researcher and a world-class intermediary, and so he has a special eye on how his research can benefit society. He is the first foreign recipient of the gold medal and has come to the country with a fantastic academic background, so he is also a happy example of how Denmark can attract some of the world's very best researchers."

Building quantum computer
Charles Marcus also leads a remarkable collaboration between the University of Copenhagen and Microsoft, which has set out in partnership to produce a topological quantum computer. The collaboration demonstrates Charles Marcus' modern approach to research, which requires both an economic and technological commitment from a large company like Microsoft and the scientific expertise of the university.

Henrik Poulsen, CEO of Ørsted and HCØ2020 Ambassador says: "When research and business work together, new opportunities arise, processes can be accelerated and solutions can find immediate application for the benefit of society. In the spirit of H.C. Ørsted, Charles Marcus, University of Copenhagen, and Microsoft have made these gains through their collaboration to create a quantum computer that will revolutionize technology and help us solve both climate challenges and other problems we face as a world community."

Charles Marcus says: "I am very honored to receive a gold medal from the Society for the Dissemination of Nature for my research and efforts to disseminate and advocate science. I like to see my work in quantum electronics as a natural extension of H.C. Ørsted's discovery of electromagnetism 200 years ago, so this recognition from the Danish scientist's own company is a very great honor."

The gold medal is presented by H.M. The Queen
SNU's H.C. Ørsted gold medal is awarded for outstanding scientific work in the fields of physics and chemistry. The medal can be awarded to researchers working in Denmark and has so far been awarded to 18 researchers since 1909, including two Nobel laureates, Niels Bohr (1924) and Aage Bohr (1970).

This year's gold medal and travel grant will be presented by Her Majesty the Queen at the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences on 27 November 2020. The press is welcome to a limited extent and registration must be made by mail to the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences by 13 November (see contact details below).

Charles Marcus will give a public lecture on October 19, 2020 at 19:00 in Auditorium 1 in H.C. Ørsted Bygningen, Universitetsparken 5, 2100 Copenhagen Ø. The lecture requires registration, which can be done on

The gold medal and the travel grant are made possible with the support of the energy company Ørsted. The lecture event and the ceremony are organized with the support of Carlsberg's Memorial Grant for Brygger J.C. Jacobsen.

More about Charles Marcus
Charles Marcus was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, grew up in Sonoma, California, and studied at Stanford University and later returned to Stanford as a professor. He has a PhD. in physics from Harvard University, where he later also got a job as a professor. After a sabbatical in Copenhagen in 2010, Charles Marcus left Harvard and moved to Denmark with his family to become the first Villum Kann Rasmussen professor sponsored by the Villum Foundation and to start the Center for Quantum Electronics at the Niels Bohr Institute sponsored by the Danish Foundation for National Research. The centre has grown and is today a capacity which, together with colleagues in related quantum research areas, has given Denmark a significant imprint on the quantum technological map. The Centre has built up a special status in the exploration of quantum mechanics and its applications on electronic circuits, which draw threads back to the quantum physical golden age that Niels Bohr caused at the foundation's creation.

Charles Marcus' many experiments have played a key role in the development of the mastery required to manipulate quantum physical conditions in solids at the single-electron level. Over the years, his science has driven a rapid experimental development of all the techniques required, on the one hand, to produce samples with complex semiconductor circuits with nanometer resolution and, on the other hand, to perform measurements at just a few hundredths of a degree above absolute zero point.

Charles Marcus has trained a large number of the people who will make up the next generation of top international scientists, and he has made a huge effort to explain to both the scientific and the general population what enormous prospects this field has. He has done this through a very busy lecture programme. He has a special ability to capture his listeners with his at the same time pictorial and precise language, which has certainly contributed to the fact that quantum mechanics and the new field of quantum technology have gained great interest in Denmark and internationally.

Contact information
The Society for the Dissemination of Natural Science
Dorte Olesen
21 26 03 50

Ørsted Press Office
Anders Stougaard
99 55 67 39

Society of Sciences
Kristoffer Frøkjær
33 43 53 20

About The Society for the Dissemination of Natural Science – live dissemination for almost 200 years
After his major discovery, H.C. Ørsted went on a long lecture tour and discovered that in both England and France societies had been set up where everyone could hear about the latest advances in physics and chemistry – and about the importance of subjects for business. In 1824 he founded the Danish Society for the Dissemination of Natural Science and began to give open lectures with access for everyone in Copenhagen, and he found skilled lecturers in many other cities in Denmark. The Brewers' Family Jacobsen was among his listeners in Copenhagen and the first members of SNU. SNU continues to focus on the best dissemination of science, and rewards excellent research and dissemination with H.C. Ørsted Medals.

About Ørsted
Ørsted's vision is to create a world that runs entirely on green energy. Ørsted is inspired by H.C. Ørsted's curiosity to understand nature, and H.C. Ørsted's discovery of electromagnetism is the basis for modern electricity production, which is at the heart of ørsted. Ørsted develops, constructs and operates offshore and onshore wind farms as well as bioenergy, solar and energy storage systems and supplies energy products to its customers. Ørsted tops the 2020 Corporate Knights' Global 100 index of the world's most sustainable companies and ranks on the climate organization CDP's A-list for its global leader in climate change. Ørsted has 6,000 employees and is headquartered in Denmark.

About the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and H.C. Ørsted
Throughout its more than 275-year history, the Royal Danish Society of Sciences has played a key role in Danish research, and has had as members of researchers of a significant nature, such as Niels Bohr, Marie Curie, Albert Einstein and Charles Darwin, both today and over the years. H.C. Ørsted was not only a member of the Danish Academy of Sciences, but also played a leading role in the scientific world of the time, for example as secretary of the company for more than 35 years (1815-1851).

About Carlsberg's Memorial Grant for Brewer J. C. Jacobsen
On 1 October 1938, the Carlsberg Foundation founded Carlsberg's Memorial Grant for Brewer J. C. Jacobsen. Based on the foundation, Carlsberg's Memorial Grant supports talent development of younger people as well as larger and smaller projects that help to disseminate and promote understanding of science and its importance in society, with a particular focus on youth. J.C. Jacobsen was himself a great admirer of H.C. Ørsted, whose lectures in SNU he began to follow as a very young person and learned a lot from.