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Thomas Blackburn acclaimed for research on high-intensity lasers

News: Dec 06, 2019

Researcher Thomas Blackburn has received an Early Career Award from the New Journal of Physics. His work on modelling high-intensity lasers is being highlighted as a significant contribution to the field.

Congratulations, Tom! How did you find out you’d won the award?

“Thank you! The New Journal of Physics contacted me and said that I’d been nominated by two people in my field and that I’d been selected for the award. It was a really nice surprise, I didn’t expect I was going to get it at all.”

Could you tell me a bit about your research?

“Our research group works on high-intensity laser and plasma physics. We’re a theoretical group, but we work with experimentalists as well. It’s a growing field ¬– the Nobel prize in physics last year was given to Donna Strickland and Gerard Mourou, for inventing the technique used to make really high-intensity lasers."

What are you working on right now?

"There are lots of new lasers that are coming online, like the Extreme Light Infrastructure (ELI), which involves the construction of three huge laser laboratory facilities in Europe. We want to understand what will happen in these high-intensity laser fields when they’re activated. There are ideas that have been known on a theoretical level for a long time but we’re now on the verge of moving it into reality.”

It sounds like these lasers are very powerful. What will it be like when they’re utilized?

“Once turned on, you don’t want to be anywhere near them. All these experiments are done under vacuum, with lots of radiation shielding, because of the enormous amount of power that’s delivered.”


The New Journal of Physics (NJP) Early Career Award is given to young researchers for their body of work so far. This year, Department of Physics researcher Thomas Blackburn was named runner-up and given a certificate and one full APC wavier.



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Utskriftsdatum: 2020-08-14