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Culture, history and society

2020 Richard Glazebrook Medal and Prize

Professor John Llewellyn Collier for the sustained leadership and strategic development of the UK's multi-disciplinary Central Laser Facility (CLF) and his pioneering developments in high peak power and high-energy, high-average power lasers.


Professor John Llewellyn Collier 2020 Richard Glazebrook Medal and Prize winner

Professor John Collier is one of the outstanding leaders in the field of laser research.

For the last decade Collier has led the Central Laser Facility (CLF) at the Science & Technology Facilities Council’s Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, building the CLF into one of the world’s leading research centres using lasers, and establishing the CLF at the heart of major international programmes.

Research at CLF is helping to inspire solutions to everyday problems; from developing future energy sources and security technologies, to finding new ways to diagnose cancer and bone disease.

Collier’s latest initiative, the Extreme Photonics Applications Centre (EPAC), is a new £82m national facility bringing together UKRI, MoD, academia and industry to apply novel laser technology originally developed by Collier to focus on laser-based accelerators and particle sources, stimulating new solutions in multi-modal, dynamic and highly penetrating imaging, sensing and novel radiobiology.

Through his tenure at CLF, Collier has focused on two key strategic themes – laser-enabled multi-disciplinary science and innovation. This has seen the CLF’s five open-access user facilities more than double annual user numbers.

He has grown CLF through efficiencies, diversifying funding and new ventures.

Bio and life science facilities have doubled in size and the diverse portfolio has stimulated both academic and industry collaborations. CLF facilities collectively service around 500 external users every year across the scientific spectrum.

Collier is highly regarded internationally as a leader in his field. He was one of the original developers of the ESFRI-sponsored €750m Extreme Light Infrastructure (ELI), the world’s first international laser research infrastructure.

Collier was Science and Technology Lead for ELI from its inception. Today, he chairs the ELI general assembly.

He was also a founding member of the pan-European Laserlab-Europe network, now in its 5th EC-funded incarnation. He sits on the management board as deputy chair.

Throughout his career, Collier has led scientific and technical development, first at CERN and then at RAL, where he has made major contributions to developments in high-power lasers, including the Vulcan PW Facility, the Gemini Facility, Optical Parametric Chirped-Pulse Amplification (OPCPA) and ‘DiPOLE’ - scalable diode-pumped, cryogenic laser technology capable of generating kJ pulse energies at multi-Hz repetition rate.

The latter world-leading technology is the basis of the new EPAC and the heart of the new high-energy density beamline on the European XFEL.

Collier is currently championing the case for a UK-based X-ray-free electron laser.