APS Compton Award for Dr. Gerhard Grübel

Awarded: Dr. Gerhard Grübel

Dr. Gerhard Grübel today received the “Arthur H. Compton Award” of the Advanced Photon Source APS at Argonne National Laboratory in the United States. The DESY physicist was honoured for his pioneering work in X-ray photon correlation spectroscopy (XPCS), which he perfected from an idea to a very successful analysis method. With the XPCS technique it is possible to make visible and study the smallest structures of condensed matter with coherent synchrotron radiation.

The Chair of the DESY Board of Directors, Professor Helmut Dosch, sends his congratulations: “Gerhard Grübel is a pioneer in X-ray analysis. He was among the first people to recognise the enormous potential of coherent X-ray radiation for the clarification of inhomogeneous matter dynamics. With the new X-ray sources at DESY, the method developed by Grübel can be applied much more efficiently and give new insights into amorphous function materials and biological systems. The DESY Directorate is proud of this international distinction of Gerhard Grübel.”

After this method had been presented for the first time in 1991 by Simon Mochrie and Mark Sutto, who share the award with Grübel, he helped to develop the technique at the European Synchrotron Radiation Source ESRF, making it one of the most efficient analysis methods for slow processes in non-crystalline matter. In XPCS studies, the coherent part of synchrotron radiation is directed at the specimen through a pinhole aperture. When this coherent beam hits the sample, the scattered light bunches into spots, called speckles. As the structure of the sample changes, the intensity of light at each speckle changes. By monitoring how the intensity fluctuates across the whole pattern of speckles—like watching flames pass through a bed of embers—it is possible to learn how the structure of the sample changes with time.

The Arthur H. Compton Award was presented for the ninth time by APS in remembrance of the American physicist Arthur H. Compton who in 1927 received the Nobel Prize for the discovery of the so-called Compton-effect, confirming the dual wave and particle nature of light.