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Home > Press > Brookhaven Lab Physicist Ilan Ben-Zvi Wins Free Electron Laser Prize

Ilan Ben-Zvi, a physicist at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory, has won the 2007 Free Electron Laser (FEL) Prize along with James Rosenzweig of the University of California-Los Angeles. Sponsored by the International Free Electron Laser Conference, which was held this year in Novosibirsk, Russia, the prize consists of an award citation, a plaque, and approximately $2,500 for each recipient.

Brookhaven Lab Physicist Ilan Ben-Zvi Wins Free Electron Laser Prize

UPTON, NY | Posted on September 27th, 2007

Ben-Zvi was recognized for his outstanding contributions to FEL science and technology. An FEL is a research tool that combines the focus of lasers and the intensity of synchrotrons, and it is useful for studying a wide variety of materials and chemical reactions. A synchrotron is an accelerator that produces various wavelengths of light for research at the atomic level. Ben-Zvi and Rosenzweig collaborated on some subjects and were acknowledged for similar contributions to the field.

"X-ray free electron lasers have excellent imaging capabilities, enabling biologists to resolve the structure of proteins, material scientists to study nanomaterials, and much more," Ben-Zvi explained. "An x-ray FEL source with laser power and brightness opens up new areas of science. Several of these facilities are now being built around the world."

Ben-Zvi's work leading to the FEL Prize included two facets of FEL technology. First, he developed laser-photocathode radiofrequency guns that provide record brightness to laser beams. These devices produce highly concentrated bursts of electrons and accelerate them to nearly the speed of light, making possible such facilities as the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) at DOE's Stanford Linear Accelerator Center. The LCLS is a free electron laser that combines laser-like x-ray beams with extreme brightness, short wavelengths, and short electron pulse duration - important features for studying materials on the atomic scale, including light-induced structural changes on time scales of a quadrillionth of a second. This will allow scientists a glimpse on a time scale never before possible and open untold opportunities for understanding catalysis, chemical processes, and molecular assembly.

Also, Ben-Zvi performed proof-of-principle experiments on x-ray single-pass FELs at Brookhaven's Accelerator Test Facility that demonstrated basic FEL principles and the feasibility of their application in building the LCLS. FELs are called single-pass when radiation builds up so fast that only a single pass of electrons through the FEL is
sufficient to produce the full output of light. Both aspects of Ben-Zvi's research were done in collaboration with numerous national laboratories and universities.

"I am proud to receive this award, the highest honor in the free electron laser community," Ben-Zvi said. "Research on free electron lasers and many types of advanced accelerators is ongoing at Brookhaven Lab, where two of my colleagues - Vladimir Litvinenko and Li Hua Yu - have also been honored with the FEL Prize within the last four years."

After earning a Ph.D. in physics from the Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel, in 1970, Ben-Zvi went to Stanford University, where he helped develop the earliest stages of superconducting linear accelerators. In 1975, he returned to Weizmann, where he founded a cryogenic technology laboratory. From 1980- 1982, Ben-Zvi was a visiting associate professor of physics at Stony Brook University, where he helped to establish an accelerator at the school, inventing and developing accelerator systems now used throughout the world.

Ben-Zvi joined Brookhaven Lab as a visiting physicist in 1988 and rose through the ranks to become a senior physicist in 1997. He served as head of Brookhaven's Accelerator Test Facility for 15 years, and he is currently the associate chair for superconducting accelerator R&D at Brookhaven as well as an adjunct professor of physics at Stony Brook University. A Fellow of the American Physical Society, Ben-Zvi is also a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and the recipient of the 1999 IEEE Accelerator Science and Technology Award and Brookhaven Lab's 2001 Science and Technology Award. He has served in leading roles in many scientific meetings and panels, including the FEL '95 and FEL'01 international meetings. He is the author or coauthor of over 280 publications.


About Brookhaven Lab
One of ten national laboratories overseen and primarily funded by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Brookhaven National Laboratory conducts research in the physical, biomedical, and environmental sciences, as well as in energy technologies and national security. Brookhaven Lab also builds and operates major scientific facilities available to university, industry and government researchers. Brookhaven is operated and managed for DOE's Office of Science by Brookhaven Science Associates, a limited-liability company founded by the Research Foundation of State University of New York on behalf of Stony Brook University, the largest academic user of Laboratory facilities, and Battelle, a nonprofit, applied science and technology organization. Visit Brookhaven Lab's electronic newsroom for links, news archives, graphics, and more:

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Diane Greenberg
631 344-2347

Mona S. Rowe
631 344-5056

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