Professor Chandrashekhar Joshi
Professor Chandrashekhar Joshi, University of California, ​received the Gothenburg Lise Meitner Award on 20 September 2018. He gave a popular lecture in honour of the Austrian-Swedish physicist Lise Meitner in connection with the award ceremony. Joshi works on plasma-based accelerators and was awarded "for conclusively demonstrating the advantages of using relativistically propagating plasma waves for electron acceleration."
​Image: Johan Bodell

​Awarded pioneer in plasma-physics faces accelerating challenges

They are in x-ray machines at the hospitals and in the safety controls at the airports. They can detect fake artwork and sterilize food. Particle accelerators are fundamental in our society as tools of scientific discovery, but they are very large and expensive. 
This year’s Gothenburg Lise Meitner Award Laureate Chandrashekhar Joshi’s work promises to pave the way for smaller and cheaper accelerators to face crucial challenges in science and technology. ​
By using plasma to accelerate particles, Joshi has shown a new paradigm for building accelerators of the future. Professor Joshi is considered the Father of the experimental field of High-Gradient Plasma-based Charged Particle Acceleration. During four decades, Joshi and his colleagues have carried out pioneering experiments. By using plasma, they have managed to accelerate particles thousands of times more rapidly than in a conventional accelerator. 

“The goal is to make the accelerators as small and cheap as possible. Aside from their use in high-energy physics, imagine that you have a thumb-sized accelerator that could be inserted into your body to irradiate a tumour or to be carried around in your briefcase.  That’s my dream for future accelerators, “says Chandrashekar Joshi, in connection with the Gothenburg Lise Meitner award ceremony on 20 September 2018.  

Joshi made the first basic experiments in the field in the 1980’s and since then he has taught generations of students and researchers who are now scientific leaders worldwide. Today, he works at the University of California in the US, but he started his career on the other side of the world. 

In his hometown, 150 kilometres outside Mumbai, it was very unusual to study abroad. 
“My father gave me a book about great scientists when I was around 10 years old. It was so cool, and I made up my mind: I also wanted to discover something that was not known before,” says Joshi. 

“I was the second person ever who left the place and went abroad. But even though I came from a small town in India, I probably had fewer difficulties in my career than Lise Meitner had in hers, because of her gender. In that context, her achievements are even more remarkable!”

At that time, when the Austrian-Swedish physicist Lise Meitner understood that it was possible to split an atomic nucleus, women were not even allowed in the laboratories. 
"She was always running against the wind. She was a real pioneer and I admire her a lot. When I studied nuclear engineering when I was an undergraduate, Lise Meitner and Marie Curie were like Gods of fission to us. Therefore, I’m very pleased to receive the Gothenburg Lise Meitner award. She did get many prizes during her career, but never the Nobel Prize she so well deserved".

In connection with the award ceremony in Gothenburg, Chandrashekhar Joshi gave a popular lecture at Chalmers in honour of Lise Meitner. 
He received the Gothenburg Lise Meitner award 2018 "for conclusively demonstrating the advantages of using relativistically propagating plasma waves for electron acceleration."


Meet Chandrashekhar Joshi in the Lise Meitner room at Chalmers/University of Gothenburg.


Text: Mia Halleröd Palmgren, mia.hallerodpalmgren@chalmers.se
Foto: Johan Bodell, johan.bodell@chalmers.se


Published: Thu 20 Sep 2018. Modified: Fri 28 Sep 2018