The Nobel Prize in Physics for 2012 was awarded jointly to French scientist Serge Haroche and American scientist David J. Wineland for the "ground-breaking experimental methods that enable measuring and manipulation of individual quantum systems," the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced Tuesday.

Haroche and Wineland independently invented and developed methods for measuring and manipulating the individual particles while preserving their quantum-mechanical nature in ways that were previously thought unattainable, the academy said in a statement on the Nobel prize website.

“The Nobel Laureates have opened the door to a new era of experimentation with quantum physics by demonstrating the direct observation of individual quantum particles without destroying them,” the academy said.

Haroche was born in 1944 in Casablanca, Morocco, and acquired his Ph.D. in 1971. He is a professor at Collège de France and Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris.

Wineland, born in the same year as Haroche in Milwaukee, obtained his Ph.D. in 1970 from Harvard University. He is a Group Leader and NIST Fellow at National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the University of Colorado’s Boulder campus.

Both scientists will share this year's awards worth 8 million Swedish krona ($1.2 million).

On Monday, the Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded jointly to British scientist John B. Gurdon and Japanese scientist Shinya Yamanaka for their work in stem cell research.