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man behind laser equipment
John Madey in his Mānoa laboratory

John Madey, a University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa professor of physics, will receive the American Physical Society’s Robert R. Wilson prize at the organization’s spring national meeting in Atlanta.

Madey is being recognized for key conceptual work on and the invention and first
 experimental demonstration of the free electron laser, which has proven to be a powerful tool for research in medicine and biology, electronic materials, nuclear physics and manufacturing. The laser is generally accepted to be the most effective light source available for analysis of the complex crystal structures central to the understanding of fundamental biological structures and processes.

A childhood interest in ham radios sparked Madey’s pursuit of physics and eventual development of the free electron laser.

He published the seminal paper on the theory of free electron laser operation while he was a doctoral student at Stanford and developed the first FEL amplifiers and oscillator as a National Research Council postdoctoral fellow there. He joined the UH Mānoa faculty in 1998 to start the FEL program here.

Madey holds many patents on innovative technologies.

The Robert R. Wilson Prize, which recognizes outstanding achievement in the physics of particle accelerators, is named for the iconic American physicist who lead the effort to create the Fermi National Acceleration Laboratory and served as its fist director.

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