Some philosophers thought that “brain produces thoughts as liver produces bile” this is the same idea. This way of thinking was called vulgar materialism. But anyway it is good sign that physicists started to discuss consciousness. However I agree with Sergey that actually this topic has been in mind of prominent physicist for many decades.
I just want to point out that the idea of consciousness as state of matter is not new. In old teaching of Vedas it is called “Chita” - a substance of mind. But this substance is not pure consciousness itself, it is just a carrier for consciousness that we constantly identify as true consciousness. Analogy: sun reflects in a mirror. The reflection of the sun is a individual consciousness, but real consciousness is the sun. The mirror is an agent or the carrier for consciousness.
There are some simple questions the physicists/philosophers need to answer by the road: if I receive information through my eyes and this information goes to my brain, is there some kind of screen in the brain to watch images?
If yes, there is a screen (same type of cells like in the eyes), then who watches the images?
Another question (the base one): who am I? Just ask yourself and you will be surprised how far you can go by answering this question.