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Senior NPL Fellow awarded prestigious Royal Society Medal

Professor Gill awarded the Rumford Medal from The Royal Society

  • Professor Patrick Gill MBE FRS, awarded the Rumford Medal from The Royal Society for his contribution to the field of physics
  • Professor Gill has made significant contributions to the scientific community, including the development of optical atomic clocks of exquisite precision, of ultra-stable lasers and of frequency standards for fundamental physics, quantum information processing, space science, satellite navigation and Earth observation.

4th August 2020 LONDON – Senior Fellow at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL), Professor Patrick Gill MBE FRS, has been awarded the Rumford Medal for his outstanding research in the field in physics.

Throughout his distinguished career, Professor Gill has made many significant contributions to the scientific community. The Rumford Medal has been awarded for his development of optical atomic clocks of exquisite precision, of ultra-stable lasers and of frequency standards, with applications to fundamental physics, quantum information processing, space science, satellite navigation and Earth observation.

Professor Gill’s current research is focused on high accuracy atomic clocks, which form the basis for the SI unit of time, the second, which underpins international timescales and satellite navigation systems. They are critical for applications across a wide range of sectors, including space, aerospace, defence and security, critical infrastructure, just-in-time industrial supply, communications and synchronisation, transport and even power grid management and high frequency financial services.

A few years after joining NPL in 1975, Professor Gill started research in ion trapping and laser cooling for optical frequency standards, and led his research group (latterly the Time and Frequency group) from 1984 for over 3 decades, whilst becoming an NPL Fellow and later Senior Fellow in the 1990s. Professor Gill is now Scientific co-director of the NPL Quantum Metrology Institute.

The NPL Quantum Metrology Institute is the leading UK centre for test and evaluation for quantum devices, and, as the UK’s National Metrology Institute, NPL is committed to helping make the most of the new opportunities that quantum presents. Professor Gill’s research has contributed to quantum research happening across the scientific community. Examples include the emerging capabilities of optical cavity-stabilised ultra-stable lasers, high accuracy optical clocks and frequency standards for improved tests of fundamental physics, and space science applications including future satellite navigation, Earth observation via satellite of climate change greenhouse gas concentrations and gravity mapping. Work undertaken by Professor Gill has also contributed to research into future ion-based quantum computing.

Professor Patrick Gill, Senior NPL Fellow, states: “I feel extremely honoured to have been awarded the 2020 Rumford Medal by the Royal Society. It highlights my research at the National Physical Laboratory over the past 45 years, covering development of the precision metrology afforded by optical clocks and frequency standards in anticipation of a future optical redefinition of the SI second.

Of course, I pay tribute the many colleagues at NPL who have helped make this happen.  Also, I must recognise the many successful collaborations with UK academia in atomic physics, photonics and quantum technologies, and with the international frequency standards and space communities.”

President of the Royal Society, Venki Ramakrishnan, states: “The Royal Society’s medals and awards celebrate those researchers whose ground-breaking work has helped answer fundamental questions and advance our understanding of the world around us. They also champion those who have reinforced science’s place in society, whether through inspiring public engagement, improving our education system, or by making STEM careers more inclusive and rewarding.

This year has highlighted how integral science is in our daily lives, and tackling the challenges we face, and it gives me great pleasure to congratulate all our winners and thank them for their work.”

Read more about Professor Gill’s career and work here.

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