Kwang-Je Kim of the Advanced Photon Source (APS) at Argonne National Laboratory has been named the recipient of the 2014 Robert R. Wilson Prize for Achievement in the Physics of Particle Accelerators. Kim was cited for “…his pioneering theoretical work in synchrotron radiation and free electron lasers [FELs] that laid the foundation for both third and fourth generation x-ray sources."
The Wilson Prize was established in 1986 by friends of the late Robert R. Wilson, founding Director of Fermilab; and the Division of Particles and Fields and the Division of Physics of Beams of the American Physical Society to recognize and encourage outstanding achievement in the physics of particle accelerators. It is presented annually.
Kim obtained his B.S. in Physics from Seoul National University, South Korea, in 1966, and his Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Maryland in 1970. He started his career as a theorist in elementary particle physics, working at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, the Max-Planck Institute for Physics and Astrophysics in Munich, and at Mainz University. He switched to accelerator physics when he joined the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in 1978. Since 1998 he has been at Argonne in the Accelerator Systems Division (ASD) of the APS, where he is currently an Argonne Distinguished Fellow. He is also Professor (part time) of Physics at the University of Chicago.
As noted on the Wilson Prize Website, Kim made pioneering theoretical contributions to the understanding of photocathode electron guns, synchrotron radiation, and free-electron lasers, including the theory of synchrotron radiation emission and the theory of self-amplified spontaneous emission from FELs. His theories led to the development of a formula to more accurately categorize light sources, which makes it easier to model x-ray brightness. This has become more important as light sources have become brighter and moved closer to the diffraction limit. Recently, he has revived the idea of an x-ray FEL in oscillator configuration employing Bragg crystals as x-ray cavity mirrors, showing that it could be a source of fully coherent x-ray pulses with extremely high spectral purity.
Kim has been active in teaching and mentoring scientists. He was elected as a Fellow of the American Physical Society in 1995 and received the International Free-Electron Laser Prize in 1997.
He was awarded the US Particle Accelerator School Prize for Achievement in Accelerator Physics and Technology in 2013. This recognition and the Wilson Prize both honor his pioneering theoretical work in synchrotron radiation and free-electron lasers.