Vice-Chancellor’s Distinguished Visiting Fellow 2014: Sir Peter Knight FRS

Photo: Macquarie University Chancellor The Hon Michael Egan AO, Sir Peter Knight FRS and the Vice-Chancellor (Left to Right)
Macquarie University Chancellor The Hon Michael Egan AO, Sir Peter Knight FRS and the Vice-Chancellor (Left to Right)

Professor S Bruce Dowton is pleased to appoint Emeritus Professor Sir Peter Knight FRS as the Vice-Chancellor’s Distinguished Visiting Fellow for 2014. Sir Peter is currently Senior Fellow in Residence at the Kavli Royal Society International Centre at Chicheley Hall in Buckinghamshire, Senior Research Investigator at Imperial College and immediate Past-President of the Institute of Physics. His research centres on theoretical quantum optics, strong field physics and especially quantum information science. He is a Thomson-ISI “Highly Cited Author”.

Knight undertook his undergraduate and postgraduate studies at Sussex University, completing a Bachelor of Science in 1968, followed by a Doctorate of Philosophy in 1972. He has held positions at the University of Rochester, Sussex, Royal Holloway, and for the past 35 years at Imperial College London. As Deputy Rector (Research) at Imperial College, he was responsible for the college’s research strategy. He retains his Professorship of Quantum Optics at Imperial College, and is a Research Professor at the University of Rochester in the USA.

Outside of his research, Knight is a Past-President of the Optical Society of America, was chair of the European Physical Society (EPS) Quantum Electronics and Optics Division as well as a member of the EPS Council. He has held advisory roles at the UK National Physical Laboratory, as well as the UK Ministry of Defence, where he remains a Government science advisor.

He holds a number of prestigious awards including the Thomas Young Medal, the Glazebrook medal, the Royal Medal and the Ives Medal. In 2005, Knight was knighted as part of the Queen’s Birthday Honours list for his work in optical physics.

Knight’s public talk, entitled ‘Quantum Technology for a Networked World: Clocks, GPS and all That’, speaks to the emergence of a networked world, connected by global fibre-optic communications and mobile phones, with geo-location provided through GPS. He speaks of the significance of the networked world and the dramatic influence it has had on our lives, and will continue to have in the future.

His talk highlights why Quantum-enabled technology is a vital part of the networked world. More specifically, he explains the way in which communications rely on incredibly stable lasers, geo-located and synchronized by atomic clocks that depend on quantum physics. He will explain the new developments in quantum technology that have the potential for even more dramatic applications, such as communication systems becoming immune to GPS jamming (of real importance for global security), quantum sensors for medical applications, sensitive magnetometry, gyros and geophysical surveying. Knight will describe the basic quantum phenomena being exploited as well as prospects for exploitation.