October 5, 2016 | Willow Enis Race

Like most people, I learnt about solids, liquids and gases at school - but I hadn't realised how complicated or 'exotic' the states of matter can get.

This year's winners of the Nobel Prize in Physics used topology, a branch of mathematics, to investigate states of matter. They looked at how extremely thin materials could conduct electricity in very low temperatures. This was known about before, but couldn't be explained without these scientists' work.

The winners' use of mathematics to explain this behaviour of matter opens doors onto new materials that could be used in super-fast computing.

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Nobel Prize

The winners will share the 8 million kronor (£727,000) prize money.

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Image: Flickr/Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, U of T

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