One of the most important physics breakthroughs of 2011 took place at Chalmers

​The experiment where light was created from vacuum is ranked as number five in Physics World magazine’s list of top ten breakthroughs for 2011. Moreover, a news item on the Chalmers research was the most read story of 2011 at the site Nature News.

Per Delsing, Göran Johansson and Christopher Wilson at the Institution for microtechnology and nanoscience. Photo: Jan-Olof Yxell and Per Delsing

Physics World is the world's leading physics magazine and the award was founded in 2009. The magazine says:

“Christopher Wilson and colleagues of Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden together with physicists in Japan, Australia and the US have bagged fifth place because they are the first to see the dynamical Casimir effect in the lab. The effect arises when a mirror is moving so quickly through a vacuum that pairs of virtual photons – which are always appearing and then annihilating – are pulled apart to create real photons that can then be detected. As well as shedding new light on the Casimir effect, the team's use of a superconducting quantum interference device (SQUID) as the mirror make this an extremely clever experiment.”
The top 10 breakthroughs list has been compiled by the Physics World team, who reviewed over 350 news articles about breakthroughs in the physical sciences published on in 2011. The criteria for judging included:
•        Fundamental importance of research
•        Significant advance in knowledge
•        Strong connection between theory and experiment
•        General interest to all physicists
Update december 22: The news item "Moving mirrors make light from nothing" was the most popular story from 2011 at the site Nature News. Thus, it had more readers than the CERN news that neutrinos can travel faster than light. See the complete list of the most read news stories of 2011 here.
Read the complete Physics World´s list of top 10 breakthroughs for 2011:
Read the news item ”How to turn darkness into light” in Physics World:
Read the press release ”Chalmers scientists create light from vacuum”:

Published: Fri 16 Dec 2011. Modified: Thu 03 May 2012