2010 Glazebrook medal

Professor Peter Roberts


For his leadership in the design, physics and safety of nuclear weapons.

Professor Roberts has demonstrated outstanding technical leadership during his 39 years’ experience at AWE. His notable achievements include leading and managing the UK underground testing programme from 1988, including nuclear safety tests of a modern UK warhead and the introduction of several novel scientific studies relevant to inertial fusion energy. Through the 1990s, he developed the strategy for certifying weapons without nuclear testing, and managed the research programme to develop this capability.

During the early 2000s Professor Roberts was seconded to MoD working for Director General Strategic Technologies and Chief Scientific Advisor to promote an understanding and resolution of various nuclear issues. He was responsible for constructing key elements of the business case to reinvigorate essential national capability in the maintenance of a safe, secure and effective stockpile. On return to AWE he sponsored a project to improve the Design to Manufacture process to reduce lead times. This strategy involved a combination of technology insertion and Lean Six Sigma process improvement methodologies. The LSS element has already identified savings of about £12 million. These significant leadership achievements have been realised in conjunction with major physics contributions; early in his career Professor Roberts developed complex radiation hydrodynamics simulation codes used as “workhorses” from 1980 to the present day for design and analysis of high energy density physics experiments and warhead design. 

The technical insights gained from this work allowed Professor Roberts and his colleagues to make vital and world leading progress underpinning the UK’s independent deterrent. He also proposed and demonstrated the potential for using high power laser experiments to address weapon physics issues. He is currently leading the plasma physics department in the completion of a major new laser facility known as Orion and has recently established a Centre for Inertial Fusion Science at Imperial College.