Riccardo Betti, professor of mechanical engineering and physics at the University of Rochester, is being honored for his work by the U.S. Department of Energy.
US Secretary of Energy Steven Chu announced today the nine winners of the 2011 Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award for their outstanding contributions in research and development supporting the Department of Energy (DOE) and its missions. Each winner will receive a gold medal, a citation and $20,000.
Betti is being recognized for a series of theoretical discoveries in the physics of inertial confinement fusion—in which nuclear fusion reactions are caused by heating and compressing pellets made of deuterium and tritium.
Betti studies the conditions under which a highly compressed mixture of deuterium and tritium –in effect, thermonuclear "fuel"—can be ignited to generate copious amounts of energy through fusion reactions. His work supports the large DOE-funded experimental efforts at the National Ignition Facility and at the University's Laboratory for Laser Energetics.
"Ignition of thermonuclear fuel in the laboratory has been a 60-year long quest in the fusion science community," said Betti. "Demonstrating ignition has important implications for energy and national security."
The Lawrence Award was established in 1959 to honor the memory of Dr. Ernest Orlando Lawrence who invented the cyclotron (a particle accelerator), and after whom two major Energy Department laboratories in Berkeley and Livermore, California are named.
The winners will be honored at a ceremony in Washington, DC, early next year.
Additional information about the Ernest O. Lawrence award can be found at http://science.energy.gov/lawrence/.