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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.

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