2013 Payne-Gaposchkin Medal and Prize

Professor Peter Norreys, University of Oxford and STFC Rutherford Appleton Laborator. For his pioneering contributions to the physics of fast particle generation and energy transport in relativistic laser- plasma interactions.

Peter Norreys has made wide-ranging and pioneering contributions to the physics of laser-plasma interactions, including seminal contributions to fast ignition inertial fusion. As UK team leader, he led the first integrated compression/heating fast ignition inertial fusion experiments at Osaka University, Japan, published in Nature in 2001 and 2002. Since then, he has investigated the underlying physics of fast electron energy transport in matter and has proposed new schemes to mitigate electron instabilities. He made the first measurements of ion beam acceleration to energies >10 MeV in relativistic laser-plasmas and, with his graduate students and collaborators from Imperial College London, published pioneering papers that have become some of the most highly cited articles in this field. With them, he was a key player in the observation of mono-energetic electron bunches in laser wakefield accelerators and is currently working with the high energy physics community to realise a proton-driven TeV e-e+ collider at CERN. He pioneered pulsed neutron source and X-ray harmonic generation from solid targets. He has shown theoretically, working with colleagues at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, that attosecond duration electron and X-ray pulses are possible with suitable control of the laser pulse polarisation properties and has also recently published new ways to control parametric instability in plasma that promise a revolution in multi-petawatt laser pulse generation.