2010 Lise Meitner Prizewinner: Professor Juha Äystö

Sponsored by CANBERRA

Lise Meitner Prize for Nuclear Science

The Nuclear Physics Division of the EPS awards the prestigious Lise Meitner Prize every alternate year to one or several individuals for outstanding work in the fields of experimental, theoretical or applied nuclear science.

Professor Juha Äystö

In recent decades the development of an important subfield of Nuclear Physics has been characterised by the invention of methods for increasing the selectivity, sensitivity and accuracy of measurements of basic nuclear properties. A key breakthrough in this direction was the development of a pioneering and ingenious method of gas guidance of ion beams, as implemented by Professor Juha Äystö at the University of Jyväskylä in the mid-1980’s.

The ion-guide concept has since become universal for many different nuclear reactions that cover almost all elements in the Periodic Table. The basic idea was to thermalise the products in a noble buffer gas, which resets the charge state of all ions to unity. The singly-charged ions are rapidly extracted and transported by an ultrasonic jet into the electrode system of a mass separator. Due to its speed, characterised by times down to milliseconds, and selectivity when combined with the isotope separator, the ion guide is an ideal tool for the investigation of short-lived exotic nuclides. The prize laureate has developed the method further and exploited the possibilities of the ion guide technique by combining it with novel research methods and instruments like laser-spectroscopy and ion trap arrangements at the IGISOL-facility in Jyväskylä.

Over the last twenty years the ion-guide concept has also been introduced throughout the world and many examples of this technique are already in operation, under construction, or planned for the study of the physics of nuclei, atoms and elementary particles. Prof. Juha Äystö has obtained a very broad range of physics results at different facilities. He began his spectroscopic studies in proton-rich nuclei with beta-delayed one and two-proton decays. A notable result is the discovery in beta-delayed two-proton decay reactions of a series of Tz = -5/2 nuclei in the sd-shell.

In addition to obtaining numerous and precise data on binding energies, radii and reaction/decay energies, an impressive variety of decay properties of ground and isomeric states have also been investigated. These provide important and necessary information about nuclear structure, weak interaction physics (super allowed beta decay with the check of unitarity of the CKM-matrix and double beta decay), nuclear astrophysics processes (r and rp) etc.

In parallel with his successful scientific career, with the highlight of the innovation of the ion guide, Prof. Äystö has played a leading role in promoting nuclear physics in Finland and Europe. The prize laureate has also served the European Nuclear Physics Community in various international scientific committees and panels.  

Photographs of the Award Ceremony

The Lise Meitner Prize was presented to Professor Juha Äystö at the NuPECC Open Meeting, Madrid, 31st May - 2nd June 2010 by Prof. Zsolt Fülöp, Chair of the EPS Nuclear Physics Division.

Prof Äystö and Prof Heenan at the Prize Ceremony

Prof Fülöp introducing the prizewinner, Prof Äystö

Prof Äystö giving a short acceptance speech

Prof Fülöp handing over the Prize Certificate and Medal to Prof Äystö

Prof Fülöp with the Lise Meitner prizewinner, Prof Äystö