2016 Harold E. Edgerton Award

Christopher Barty receives Harold E. Edgerton Award.

01 July 2016

SPIE Fellow Christopher Peter James Barty, chief technology officer for the US National Ignition Facility (NIF) and Photon Science Directorate at Lawrence Livermore National Lab (LLNL), is the recipient of the 2016 Harold E. Edgerton Award for his advancements in ultrafast lasers.

The award recognizes Barty’s development of the foundational techniques that have enabled ultrafast, intense lasers and his pioneering contributions to time-resolved, x-ray and gamma-ray science conducted with such lasers.

SPIE presents the Harold E. Edgerton Award annually for outstanding contributions to optical or photonic techniques in the application and understanding of high-speed physical phenomena.

“Dr. Barty is known worldwide for his continuing technical leadership in optics and lasers,” said SPIE Fellow Edward Moses, former director of NIF. “His 30-plus year career has been marked by a string of pioneering endeavors that have created world-leading photon capabilities and been used to demonstrate new science and applications.”

Barty has shared his expertise through courses at major conferences and summer schools in the US and Europe. Because of this work and interactions with European labs, Moses said LLNL was awarded a contract to build a 10-Hz, high-repetition-rate advanced petawatt (PW) laser system for the Extreme Light Infrastructure Beamlines project in the Czech Republic.

Barty’s research has crossed boundaries between fundamental science and applied technology impacting several fields including high-field physics, quantum control chemistry, ultrafast optical engineering, nuclear physics, high-power laser science, medical x-ray science, and global security.

In addition to his development of ultrafast, high-intensity lasers, he has contributed to the creation of ultrashort-duration, laser-based secondary sources of x-rays and gamma rays.

His work with teams prior to LLNL include creating record-setting, ultrafast, high-intensity laser systems and using these for numerous groundbreaking experiments including excitation of novel x-ray lasers, direct observation of non-thermal melting in semiconductor systems and reduced-dose, time-gated medical imaging.

image from NIFAt LLNL, Barty developed the concept for the first multi-Hertz, diffraction-limited PW laser system. He led R&D efforts to develop the kilojoule-class ultrahigh-intensity lasers to probe nuclear fusion at NIF and has invented and developed new mono-energetic gamma-ray technologies that enable isotope-specific material detection, assay, and imaging.

“My work, by its nature has always required a team effort and over the years has involved numerous talented researchers, staff, and students,” Barty said. “Without the inspiration, efforts and camaraderie of these individuals, I could not have won this award.” Barty will receive the award in August at SPIE Optics + Photonics in San Diego.


For nearly six decades, SPIE has presented annual awards to recognize significant achievements and contributions in advancing the science of light.

Look for other stories about award recipients for 2016 in this issue and the October edition of SPIE Professional.

Nominations for the 2017 SPIE awards were due 1 June and will be announced in January 2017 or earlier.

More information: spie.org/awards.

Have a question or comment about this article? Write to us at spieprofessional@spie.org.

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