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National recognition for laser expert

A University of St Andrews physicist who is making groundbreaking developments in the world of laser technology has been awarded a prestigious medal by The Royal Society.

Professor Wilson Sibbett, who is based in the School of Physics and Astronomy, has been awarded the Rumford Medal in recognition of his research into ultrafast laser science and technology.

Ultrashort-pulse laser systems are driving forward many areas of scientific research and industrial applications including, for example, microvascular surgery where lasers can drill tiny holes in the walls of the heart to supply oxygenated blood to cardiac muscles which have blocked blood vessels. Scientists are also using ultrashort laser pulses to micromachine very precisely bony intrusions into the spinal column without damaging the adjacent nerve tissue. In the future, it is also expected that ultrafast lasers will produce pharmaceutical discoveries such as how certain drugs function at the fundamental cellular level.

An increasingly important area of application for the ultrashort- pulse lasers which have been developed by Professor Sibbett and his colleagues relates to the design and implementation of a new generation of optical networks which will offer the potential of a hundred times increase in the speed of internet services.

A silver gilt medal dating back to 1800, the Rumford Medal is awarded biennially in recognition of an outstandingly important recent discovery in science made by a scientist working in Europe.

Rumford, a Fellow of the Royal Society, was primarily concerned that recognition be given to discoveries which promote the good of mankind. In this regard, Professor Sibbett’s research programme which led to a new type of practical ultrashort-pulse laser being developed in 1990 was especially significant. His technique is now widely used across the world and has subsequently revolutionised the entire field of ultrafast science. This, in turn, is opening up a route for many exciting advances in ultrafast technology where many applications sectors are involved.

ENDS

NOTE TO EDITORS – Emailable photograph of Professor Sibbett at work available from Claire Grainger – contact details below.

Issued by Beattie Media on behalf of the University of St Andrews For more information please contact Claire Grainger on 01334 462530, 07730 415 015 or email cg24@st-andrews.ac.uk Ref: wilson/standrews/chg/25oct2000

 

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