Physicist Otto ‘Nino‘ Landen receives prestigious Edward Teller Award

Nino Landen (Download Image)

LLNL physicist Nino Landen has received a 2023 Edward Teller Award, which comes with an engraved silver medal.

Otto “Nino” Landen, a distinguished member of the technical staff and the inertial confinement fusion (ICF) experiments group leader at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), has been awarded the 2023 Edward Teller Medal.

The Fusion Energy Division of the American Nuclear Society (ANS) presented the award to Landen this week during the International Conference on Inertial Fusion Sciences and Applications 2023 (IFSA) held in Denver, Colorado. Landen was honored for his “pioneering contributions to ICF and high energy density science (HEDS) and for (his) leadership in achieving ignition on the National Ignition Facility (NIF).”

“I have benefited over the years from the freedom to explore and develop new techniques at LLNL’s state-of-the-art ICF and HEDS instrumentation, target fabrication capability, and high-power laser facilities,” Landen said. “I’m indebted to the dedicated teams I have worked with and especially grateful for their patience and persistence to get past disappointments and for their enthusiasm in following up on successes. I am truly honored to receive this recognition.”

Landen’s distinguished career in plasma physics began with the completion of his Ph.D. in experimental plasma physics at Imperial College, London, in 1983. He held several postdoc appointments where he studied X-ray spectroscopy of laser-produced plasmas and picosecond laser-generated plasmas.

In 1991, Landen joined LLNL as a staff scientist in the laser experiments and diagnostics group, performing Nova and OMEGA ICF and HEDS indirect-drive experiments, later becoming the group leader for hohlraums and implosion experiments in 1995 and associate program leader for target physics in 2001. Over the last two decades, he has formed and led teams to develop novel low Z dense plasma characterization techniques (X-ray Thomson scattering, Compton and refraction enhanced radiography), and the experimental ICF platforms for adjusting the key laser and target inputs at NIF that culminated in LLNL’s achievement of fusion ignition for the first time on Dec. 5, 2022, at NIF.

In 2015, Landen was appointed chief scientist of LLNL’s HED Science and Technology program and has been responsible for focused experiments since 2018 and all layered ignition experiments on NIF since 2020.

Landen’s contributions to the scientific community have been widely recognized. He was elected a fellow of the American Physical Society in 2002 in recognition of his pioneering work in the fields of picosecond laser-plasma interactions, advanced diagnostics, X-ray driven ICF implosions and time-dependent hohlraum symmetry control. In 2022, Landen was part of an LLNL burning plasma team that was awarded the John Dawson Award for Excellence in Plasma Physics Research.

The ANS also presented a 2023 Edward Teller Medal to Peter Norreys, professor of physics and inertial fusion science at Oxford University.

Omar Hurricane, chief scientist for the LLNL ICF program, also will be presented the Edward Teller Award he was awarded in 2021. The award presentation that year was delayed because the IFSA conference was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Edward Teller Medal, established in 1991, is presented biennially to individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the use of high-intensity drivers for scientific research and the investigation of inertial fusion. The award honors pioneering research and leadership in the creation of high-temperature and high-density matter for scientific research and controlled thermonuclear fusion. The prestigious medal is named after the late physicist Edward Teller, LLNL co-founder and a pioneer in the field of inertial fusion science.

Previous Teller medalists from LLNL include John Nuckolls, John Lindl, Steven Haan, George Zimmerman, Mordecai RosenLaurance SuterJoe KilkennyEdward MosesBruce RemingtonJames Hammer, Max Tabak and Omar Hurricane.