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2019 Joseph Thomson Medal and Prize

Professor Simon Cornish for outstanding contributions to experiments on ultra-cold atoms and molecules, in particular, the formation of matter-wave solitons and ultra-cold ground state molecules and their interactions.


Head and shoulders photograph of Professor Simon Cornish. He's a young man, wearing glasses and a pale pink shirt. He's looking into the camera and there are trees and a cloudy sky in the background.

Over two decades, Simon Cornish has made major advances to the fields of precision measurement, ultra-cold atoms and molecules.

He worked on the first experiments of the collapse of Bose-Einstein condensates – the so-called bosonova – with Nobel Laureate Carl Wieman. Subsequently, at Durham University, he showed how this collapse leads to solitary-wave formation and has investigated methods to exploit the non-dispersive nature of solitary-wave for matter-wave interferometry.

In parallel,  he began experiments on the formation of ultra-cold molecules. In 2014, his group were one of the first to demonstrate the production and detection of ultra-cold ground state molecules – a completely new type of matter. Subsequently, his group has developed new tools to control the internal state of the molecules and have made important contributions to our understanding of ultracold molecular collisions.

This research has opened up new directions in atomic, molecular and optical physics both in terms of tests of fundamental physics and applications in areas such as quantum simulation and quantum technology.

Read about our Silver Subject Medals.