George Neil Named to Lead JLab's Free-Electron Laser Program

NEWPORT NEWS, Va., Feb.15, 2008 - Dr. George Neil has been named Associate Director of the Free-Electron Laser Division at the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (Jefferson Lab).

Neil is responsible for managing the Free-Electron Laser (FEL) operations and research programs. The machine uses superconducting radiofrequency technology to convert electron-beam energy into light that is used to conduct an array of defense, industrial and academic research.

He has served as the FEL acting associate director since March 2007, and for several years before that as the program's deputy. The machine is the world's most powerful tunable Free-Electron Laser, and incorporates a unique energy-recovery design. On Oct. 30, 2006, the FEL staff produced 14.2 kilowatts (kW) of laser light. It also holds the world's record in terahertz light generation (100 watts).

Neil's professional career has spanned many areas of technology development including plasma physics, nuclear engineering, lasers and accelerator technology development in the aerospace industry, universities and at national laboratories. He spent 10 years at TRW Defense and Space Systems Group in Los Angeles with responsibility for Isotope Separation Sources and Free-Electron Laser Development. That was followed by three years as FEL Chief Scientist for TRW at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California.

He holds 12 patents and has lectured and published extensively internationally. Neil is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, a Fellow of the Directed Energy Professional Society, a co-winner of the Year 2000 International FEL Prize, and a co-winner of a 2005 R&D 100 Award for his work in developing high-power FELs and their applications. He is a member of the FEL International Executive Committee and the International Advisory Board of the IEEE IR and Millimeter Wave Conference.

Neil earned his bachelor's degree in Engineering Science at the University of Virginia in 1970. Following service in the U.S. Army, he attended the University of Wisconsin where he received a master's degree in Nuclear Engineering in 1975, followed by a Ph.D. in the same field in 1977.