Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click on 'Find out more' to see our Cookie statement.

Professor Sir Michael Pepper, visiting Professor at the Department of Chemistry, has been awarded the Institute of Physics (IOP) Isaac Newton Medal and Prize - given for world-leading contributions to physics. Professors Ian Shipsey and Alexander Schekochihin in the Department of Physics have also received IOP awards.

A view of Oxford colleges and spires

Sir Michael Pepper, the physicist whose fundamental work has led to applied topics such as the development of a new way of detecting skin cancers, has been awarded the IOP’s most prestigious medal for the creation of the field of semiconductor nanoelectronics and discovery of new quantum phenomena. 

What that means in practice is that he has worked with and manipulated electrons in semiconductor nanostructures to discover how they then behave and interact, leading to new quantum phenomena, and has put this new knowledge into practice, imagining and realising scientific breakthroughs. Many of the techniques which he developed, and associated results, are used by many other research groups and have revealed new and unsuspected quantum phenomena which may be important in the emerging quantum computation.

Head and shoulders photograph of Professor Sir Michael Pepper. He's in late middle-age, wearing glasses and a blue shirt with green foliage in the background.

Professor Sir Michael Pepper, winner of the Isaac Newton Medal and Prize.

Sir Michael developed applications of semiconductor nanostructures by starting the Quantum Communications programme at Toshiba Research Europe, Cambridge, where he was the founding Managing Director, leading to controlled single and entangled photon devices. This has applications in highly secure transmission of information where the security is protected by the laws of quantum mechanics. He also set up a spin-out company, TeraView, to pioneer and develop applications of terahertz radiation.

Terahertz radiation technology has already also been used in the pharmaceutical industry to check the formulation and structural integrity of drugs which can ensure their safety even after they are packaged. Professor Sir Michael Pepper continues to push the frontiers of physics, discovering new effects that are important to our understanding of basic physics and for the development of new technologies.

Professor Sir Michael said: “I am greatly honoured to receive this prestigious award from the IOP for work which is based on collaboration with many colleagues to whom I am greatly indebted.”

OTHER 2019 IOP awards at Oxford

In addition, two academics in the Department of Physics received IOP Silver Subject medals, awarded annually to recognise and reward distinguished contributions to physics:

Professor Ian Shipsey was awarded the IOP 2019 Chadwick Medal and Prize for his elucidation of the physics of heavy quarks, the development of the enabling instrumentation, and leadership of scientific collaborations.

Professor Alexander Schekochihin was awarded the IOP 2019 Cecelia Payne-Gaposchkin Medal and Prize for elucidating the dynamics that regulate the properties of turbulent, magnetised laboratory and astrophysical plasmas.

All award winners will be celebrated at the Institute’s annual Awards Dinner in November.

More information

Details about all of the awards winners, including photos and citations, are available on the IOP website.

Similar stories

A unique international ‘zoom’ collaboration to develop treatments for COVID-19

An international collaboration of 29 scientists around the world has focused on understanding how SARS-COV-2 makes its worker proteins at the molecular level in order to develop novel antiviral drugs that block their production.

Troubled waters: How global marine wildlife protection can undermine fishing communities

New research led by the University of Oxford, published in Conservation Letters, has examined the conflict between small-scale fisheries and marine mammals, using the experience of fisheries on the west coast of South America to highlight a worldwide issue.

How Oxford University research is helping feed the world in the 21st century

New research published recently in the journal eLife sheds fresh light on plant chloroplasts, and the proteins inside them. The regulation of chloroplast proteins is important for plant development and stress acclimation and is increasingly significant as plants are having to respond to changing environments.

Eight Oxford researchers win top UKRI Future Leaders Fellowships

Five of the new Fellows are from MPLS Division. The Fellowships have been created by UKRI to help develop the next wave of world-class research and innovation leaders in academia and business.

Coronavirus Epidemics first hit more than 21,000 years ago

A new Oxford University Study, published today, shows that the most recent common ancestor of the SARS-CoV viruses existed more than 21,000 years ago, nearly 30 times older than previous estimates.

Reducing children’s exposure to malaria in their early years substantially cuts the risk of hospitalisation

For the first time in more than two decades, a team from the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme and University of Oxford (including Department of Zoology researchers) have quantified the risk of children suffering severe outcomes from malaria.