2017 – Patrick Gill

Patrick Gill received a BSc (Hons) in Physics from the University of Sussex in 1971, followed by a DPhil in experimental physics from the University of Oxford in 1975. He started his career at the UK Patrick GillNational Physical Laboratory in Teddington in 1975, firstly working on iodine-stabilised lasers and other optical frequency standards, then research on laser-cooled trapped ion optical frequency standards and optical clocks during the mid 1980s. He is a Senior NPL Fellow leading the NPL Time & Frequency group, and co-Director of the NPL Quantum Metrology Institute. He holds visiting professor positions at the University of Oxford and Imperial College London.

Notable research: In 1997 Patrick located and observed, for the first time, the ultra-weak 467 nm octupole optical clock transition in a single cold ytterbium ion, which has a theoretical spectral width in the nanohertz region (Q ~ 1023) and now one of the leading possibilities for an optical redefinition of the SI second. In 2004, he reported the first Hz-level measurement of the single strontium ion clock frequency, which resulted with it being the first optical clock frequency to be accepted as a secondary representation of the second in 2006 by the CIPM Consultative Committee on Time & Frequency. Both these cold ion optical clock systems, together with the NPL recently-demonstrated strontium neutral optical lattice clock, now outperform the current caesium fountain microwave primary standard.

Over the last two decades, he has developed highly stable lasers stabilised to ultra-low expansion optical reference cavities, in particular for space-based applications using vibration-insensitive cavity designs. These activities are feeding into future mission scenarios for an optical clock on the ISS, next generation gravity mapping involving long-range laser interferometry between two spacecraft traversing different gravity fields with application to climate change studies, and future generation replenishment of GNSS on-board clocks. He is also involved in the development of a range of miniature microwave clocks and portable cold atom microwave and optical clocks for positioning, navigation and timing applications.

1999: The Tompion Medal awarded by the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers
2007: The I I Rabi Award from the IEEE International Frequency Control Symposium
2008: The Thomas Young medal awarded by the UK Institute of Physics
2014: Royal Institute of Navigation Duke of Edinburgh award to NPL Time & Frequency group
2015: Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE)
2016: Elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society
2016: The Callendar Medal, awarded by the UK Institute of Measurement and Control