The Fermi Prize 2015 in the International Year of Light

By & . Published on 23 November 2015 in:
Awards, IYL 2015, News, November 2015, , ,

The 2015 Enrico Fermi Prize of the Italian Physical Society [SIF] has been awarded to Toshiki Tajima and Diederik Wiersma with the following citation:

For their innovative and high-impact contributions to the study of phenomena dealing with the interaction of light with matter and particles“.

From left to right: Toshiki Tajima, Luisa Cifarelli and Diederik S. Wiersma
From left to right: Toshiki Tajima,
Luisa Cifarelli and Diederik S. Wiersma

In particular:

– to Toshiki Tajima, University of California at Irvine, Irvine, CA, USA, “for the invention of the laser-wakefield-acceleration technique which led to a large number of fundamental and interdisciplinary applications ranging from accelerator science to plasma physics and astrophysics“;

– to Diederik Wiersma, University of Florence, Italy, and National Institute of Optics of the Italian National Research Council [INO-CNR] and European Laboratory for Non-Linear Spectroscopy[LENS], “for the first observation of Anderson localisation and of anomalous transport phenomena described by Lévy statistics in the framework of his highly original research on light propagation in disordered media“.

The prestigious Enrico Fermi Prize was created 2001 by the Italian Physical Society, to commemorate the great scientist on the occasion of the centenary of his birth. The Prize is awarded to one or more members of the Society who particularly honoured physics with their discoveries.

Diederick Wiersma is the author of the discovery of anomalous light propagation in disordered media which is now showing amazing results. Light waves entering a disordered structure are scattered several times before exiting in random directions. Interfering with each other, they lead to interesting, and sometimes unexpected, physical phenomena. These findings, which are applicable to all waves, are particularly suited for improving the absorption efficiency of thin-film solar cells and can provide a new approach for high-extraction-efficiency light-emitting diodes.

A commission of experts appointed by the SIF, the National Research Council [CNR], the National Institute of Astrophysics [INAF], the National Institute of Nuclear Physics [INFN], the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology [INGV], the National Institute of Metrological Research [INRIM] and the Centro Fermi (Enrico Fermi Historical Museum of Physics and Study & Research Centre) selects the winner(s) among a list of candidates and forwards its proposal to the Council of the Society for final approval.

Toshiki Takjima is the author, together with John Dawson, of the idea of the existence of a wakefield behind an ultra-short intense laser pulse and its subsequent acceleration of particles to high energies in a very compact way. This discovery has opened the way to advanced research in accelerator physics. Laser wakefield acceleration has now been experimentally verified and its applications are rapidly emerging, in particular for the generation of high-energy electrons, ions, and X-rays on ultrafast (femto- to attosecond and beyond) time scales.

The research field of the 2015 winners is well matched with the celebrations of the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies (IYL 2015).

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