For the promotion of sustainability of energy use in the field of nuclear waste and natural gas pyrolysis.
Professor, Gran Sasso Science Institute, Senator for life in Italy, Nobel Prize laureate in Physics 1984
As one of his leitmotifs in life, Prof Rubbia has chosen to contribute with disruptive solutions for the sustainability of the energy system. He has provided new solutions in the field of elimination of nuclear radioactive waste, to the field of nuclear fusion. In 1970, he was appointed Higgins Professor of Physics at Harvard University and, with David Cline and Alfred Mann, proposed a major neutrino experiment at the new Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab), which allowed them to observe all-muons events in neutrino interactions, hinting at the existence of the charm quark. Rubbia divided his time between teaching at Harvard, and research at CERN in Geneva, where a new particle beam accelerator used counterrotating beams of protons colliding against each other. In 1976, with Cline and Peter McIntyre, he suggested adapting this machine to collide protons and antiprotons in the search for intermediate vector bosons (roughly 100 times as heavy as the proton). The experiment began in 1981 and, in January 1983, the team succeeded in creating W particles, followed a couple of months later by the even more elusive Z particles. The following year, Rubbia and Simon van der Meer (part of the CERN team who developed the antiproton beam) shared the Nobel Prize in Physics 1984.
He has also contributed the field of renewable energy, providing new solutions for solar thermal technologies, promoting project that can reduce significantly cost of such concepts by the use of Fresnel collectors and molten salts as coolant.
He also started to develop a key technology for the sustainable utilisation of fossil fuels, strongly supporting and promoting natural gas pyrolysis as mean to include hydrocarbons into the circular economy, and give natural a place towards the transition to a low-CO2/decarbonised society.