Justin Knight
Soonwon Choi, Assistant Professor of Physics at MIT
Justin Knight

Soonwon Choi wins 2024 Inchon Award

MIT assistant professor of physics receives Inchon award for advancements in the field of quantum science.

Assistant Professor of Physics Soonwon Choi has been awarded the 2024 Inchon Award for Science and Technology. Presented by the Korean Inchon Memorial Foundation, this year’s Inchon Award, now in its 37th year, selected people who have achieved outstanding achievements in three categories: education, media/culture, and science/technology.  

Choi, a researcher in the Center for Theoretical Physics, a division of the Laboratory for Nuclear Science, received his doctorate from Harvard University in 2018 and joined MIT in 2021.  The award called Choi “a world-class talent who is attracting attention as a scholar in the field of quantum science. He has published research papers across all fields of quantum science, including quantum simulation, quantum measurement, quantum information theory, quantum artificial intelligence, quantum computation, and algorithm development, in leading academic journals.”

Says Choi, “I am still a junior (professor), but I am honored to receive this prestigious award.”

Professor Choi was evaluated as a theoretical physicist who is pioneering new areas by serving as a bridge between experiment and theory. The joint research that led to the world’s first implementation of “Time Crystals” in 2017 while he was working on his doctorate and made the cover of Nature magazine was also the result of the fusion of theory and experiment. Temporal crystal refers to a substance whose atomic structure changes periodically and repeatedly over time, just as a “crystal” in space shows a certain pattern.

“Movement means high energy, and the idea of stabilization came to mind while wondering how to stabilize and synchronize it,” Choi says. He says that he immediately wrote a research proposal, and his colleague, Professor Choi Jun-hee of Stanford University, implemented it through experiments.

Choi also developed an error verification method for quantum simulators earlier this year, and related papers were published in Nature and Science, respectively. A quantum simulator is a device that reproduces the quantum mechanical phenomena of a specific material. Choi said that errors can be verified when devising quantum phenomena in a simulator.

The Inchon Memorial Association and Dong-A Ilbo established the Inchon Award in 1987 to honor the legacy of Inchon Kim Seong-su, who founded Dong-A Ilbo and Gyeongseong Textiles, and fostered talent through Chung-Ang School and Boseong College (now Korea University). The awards will be given Oct. 11, when Choi will receive his prize of 100 million won and a medal.