Oxford physicist receives muon science prize

5 March 2020

Professor Stephen Blundell from the Department of Physics at Oxford University has been awarded the prestigious Yamazaki Prize by the International Society for Muon Spectroscopy. The prize recognises his outstanding, sustained work in the field; Professor Blundell has been using muons to study the behaviour of advanced materials for more than 25 years.

The Yamazaki Prize is awarded once every three years to a scientist whose work has a long-term impact on muon spectroscopy’s scientific and technical applications. Professor Blundell’s research has focused on materials with interesting magnetic, superconducting or dynamical properties; he has used the full range of muon techniques to achieve this, publishing more than 380 research papers. Significant achievements have included advancing our understanding of iron-based superconductors, particularly the LiFeAs and NaFeAs systems, and demonstrating how molecular intercalation between the iron-chalcogenide layers enhances the superconducting Tc. He has also been one of the leading developers of tools to apply ab initio calculations to muon spectroscopy.

Muon spectroscopy: a world-leading tool

‘I am delighted and honoured to receive this prize,’ comments Professor Blundell. ‘It is wonderful to receive this recognition from my peers and gives me the opportunity to gratefully acknowledge the tremendous work of my wonderful students and postdocs, past and present, as well as the fantastic colleagues in Oxford and elsewhere that I have had the privilege to work with. Muon spectroscopy has become a world-leading tool for revealing new information about magnets and superconductors, revealing the intricate details of the microscopic magnetic fields that abide in materials, advancing our knowledge of emergent states of matter.’

Philip King, Head of the Spectroscopy and Support Division of the ISIS Neutron and Muon Source in the UK added, ‘Professor Blundell is a well-respected user, and friend of the ISIS Neutron and Muon Source, known for his extensive scientific achievements using implanted muons, his advocacy and promotion of the technique, his support for and involvement in the world-wide muon community, and his training contributions through students, reviews, books and in many other ways. He is an excellent ambassador for the muon technique, and I am delighted that his significant accomplishments have been recognised with this award.’