Brookhaven Lab scientists win 2003 Arthur J. Compton Award

April 29, 2003

UPTON, NY æ Three scientists associated with the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory -- Martin Blume, Doon Gibbs, and Denis McWhan -- along with Kazumichi Namikawa of Gakugei University in Tokyo, Japan, have won the 2003 Advanced Photon Source Arthur H. Compton Award. The award recognizes important technical or scientific accomplishments that are beneficial to the Advanced Photon Source, a synchrotron light source at DOE's Argonne National Laboratory where researchers use high-brilliance x-ray beams to probe materials.

The researchers will receive the award, which consists of a plaque and a monetary prize, at the twelfth annual users meeting for the Advanced Photon Source, on April 30. Blume will deliver the Compton Lecture on the cited work on behalf of all the recipients.

The award citation recognizes the recipients "for pioneering theoretical and experimental work in resonant magnetic x-ray scattering, which has led to important application in condensed matter physics."

Every major synchrotron in the world, including the National Synchrotron Light Source (NSLS) at Brookhaven, currently uses resonant magnetic x-ray scattering. Said Gibbs, "The technique has proven to be a viable alternative to neutrons for the study of magnetic structure in certain materials, such as rare earths and actinides. More broadly, the strengths of x-ray magnetic scattering complement those of neutron magnetic scattering, and open new possibilities for research."

In the technique, x-rays hit a sample and scatter. To determine the sample's magnetic properties, the researchers analyze the scattered x-rays' intensity and polarization. When the x-ray energy is tuned so that electrons can be excited from one atomic level to another, the magnetic scattering signal becomes much larger than normal. The effect is called resonant magnetic scattering.

Blume predicted magnetic resonance scattering in 1983, and it was first observed experimentally by Namikawa, at the Photon Factory in Tsukuba, Japan. Large scattering patterns were observed by Gibbs, McWhan, and others at the Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source in 1988, and then even larger effects were observed in actinide compounds at the NSLS at Brookhaven.

"I am honored to share this award with my three colleagues," said Blume. "I would also like to recognize two outstanding physicists and valued coworkers, Jim Hannon and George Trammell, both of Rice University, who contributed significantly to the theory of resonant scattering. They clearly deserve to be recognized as well."

While echoing those sentiments, McWhan also noted the important experimental contributions made by coworkers Christian Vettier of the Institute Laue Langevin and Eric Isaacs of Lucent Technologies.

Gibbs also acknowledged "the important role of the U.S. Department of Energy in supporting much of the original work and in promoting these techniques at synchrotron sources ever since."

Martin Blume earned an A.B. from Princeton University in 1954 and a Ph.D. in physics from Harvard Unversity in 1959. He was a Fulbright Fellow at Tokyo University from 1959 to 1960, and a research associate at Harwell, England, from 1960 to 1962. He joined Brookhaven as an associate physicist in 1962, and he became a senior physicist in 1970. From 1972 to 1980, he also was professor of physics at Stony Brook University. In 1984, Blume was appointed Deputy Director of Brookhaven Lab, a position he held until 1996, when he became editor-in-chief of the American Physical Society. He has remained a senior physicist (on leave) at Brookhaven.

Doon Gibbs earned a B.S. from the University of Utah, in 1977, and a Ph.D. in physics in 1982, from the University of Illinois, Urbana. He joined Brookhaven Lab in 1983 as an assistant physicist and worked his way through the ranks to become Deputy Chair of the Physics Department in 2001. In November, 2002, he was named both Interim Director of Brookhaven's Center for Functional Nanomaterials, a position he held until March 2003, and Interim Associate Laboratory Director for Basic Energy Sciences, his current position.

Denis McWhan earned a B.S. from Yale University in 1957, and a Ph.D. in chemistry from University of California, Berkeley, in 1961. He joined Bell Telephone Laboratories in 1962, and was also a guest researcher at Brookhaven from 1974 to 1989. In 1990, he joined Brookhaven as National Synchrotron Light Source (NSLS) Department Chair, and, in 1995, he became Associate Laboratory Director for Basic Energy Sciences, a position he held until he retired in 2000. He has retained a guest scientist appointment at the NSLS.
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