Professor Ekert works on information processing in quantum-mechanical systems. His invention in 1991 of entanglement-based quantum cryptography (which exploits a physical phenomenon that occurs when pairs of photons interact in ways such that the quantum state of each particle cannot be described independently) triggered an explosion of research efforts worldwide and continues to inspire new research directions. He has played a leading role in transforming quantum information science into a vibrant interdisciplinary field.
Commenting on his election, Professor Ekert said:
"Needless to say, I am delighted to be elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. This is a good moment to reiterate that Merton College has played a pivotal role not only in shaping my research career but also in promoting quantum information science in Europe. At the time I was elected a Junior Research Fellow at Merton the field was considered a niche academic activity. I can only admire the foresight of the Fellows who interviewed me and gave me a chance. I want to thank all my friends and colleagues at Merton for their support and encouragement."
Polish-born Professor Ekert, who is also Director of the Centre for Quantum Technologies at the National University of Singapore, was awarded the 1995 Maxwell Medal and Prize by the Institute of Physics and the 2007 Hughes Medal by the Royal Society. In his non-academic life he is an avid scuba diver and a pilot.