John Travers, professor of physics at Heriot-Watt University and director of the Laboratory of Ultrafast Physics and Optics, has been awarded the Harvey Engineering Research Prize by the IET. This prize of £350,000 is awarded to phenomenal researchers working in the fields of radar and microwave, lasers and optoelectronics, or medical engineering.
John has been recognised for his work on creating new sources of ultraviolet light using ultrafast pulses that are a million billionth of a second in duration. Used in ultrafast laser systems, these new light sources could unlock far-reaching advances in science, healthcare and industry; for example, investigating new materials, developing new healthcare applications and innovating the manufacture of microchips used in computers and phones.
The technique John has pioneered involves converting infrared light into a high-performing form of bright ultraviolet light. This is achieved by pulsing the infrared light into glass tubes filled with gases. The process allows John and his team to customise the properties of the ultraviolet light beams for use in different applications, such as laser machining.
John presented a virtual keynote lecture, hosted by the IET, in March 2023. This was broadcast live and was followed by a Q&A session with IET President Professor Bob Cryan and can be watched below.