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Jens Dilling awarded Rutherford Medal in Physics

15 September 2020

Jens Dilling, Associate Lab Director of TRIUMF’s Physical Sciences Division, has been awarded the 
Royal Society of Canada’s Rutherford Memorial Medal in Physics 

The Medal, which is awarded once per year for each physics and chemistry, is a recognition of outstanding research and leadership in the awardee’s field. Dilling’s award citation notes: 
Jens Dilling has made breakthrough discoveries in the field of experimental nuclear physics studying the fine details of the interactions of the atomic building blocks, the nucleons. He developed and built a mass spectrometer that is the fastest and one of the most precise in the world for studies of some of the shortest-lived isotopes produced with accelerators. Using mass spectrometry of unprecedented precision in tandem with the Einstein equivalent principle of energy and mass (E = mc2), Prof. Dilling has identified and probed novel mechanisms in the dynamics that hold atoms together, elucidating the inner workings of matter and broadening our understanding of nuclear physics. 

Dilling obtained his undergraduate and doctoral degrees in physics from the University of Heidelberg before arriving to TRIUMF in 2001. Soon after, he proposed, designed, and led the construction of TITAN (TRIUMF Ion Trap for Atomic and Nuclear Science)one of the world’s fastest and most precise tools for measuring the mass of a single atom and the only facility able to do so with highly charged, rare isotopes. For instance, TITAN currently holds a world-record for the fastest measurement of lithium-11, a short-lived isotope that required measurement in less than four hundredths-of-a-secondTITAN also holds the record for the mass measurements of the next 10 shortest-lived isotopes. These analyses provide the foundation for extending nuclear physics as an applied field; rare isotope mass measurements, for example, could point the way to new isotopes for nuclear medicine to treat cancers, and new ways to treat and handle nuclear wastes. 
Since 2016, Dilling has also served as TRIUMF’s Associate Lab Director for Physical Sciences, providing leadership, direction, and oversight for TRIUMF’s scientific program in particle and nuclear physics and molecular and materials sciences and continuing to build relationships across TRIUMF’s network of academic and applied science communities in Canada and around the world.  

“It is an honour to receive the Rutherford Medal in Physics,” said Dilling. “I see it as an acknowledgement of the important progress in nuclear physics that we have been able to achieve at TRIUMF’s ISAC facility - and a recognition for the hard work of our teams, which include the many experimentalists, post-docs, and students whom I have been privileged to work alongside during my time at TRIUMF.”  
“I join the Royal Society of Canada in congratulating Jens for this commendation, named for one of the most important figures in the history of physics,” said Jonathan Bagger, TRIUMF Director. “The Rutherford Medal is awarded for excellence in physicsIt honours Jens’ contributions to experimental nuclear physics; it recognizes his work, as well as that of his collaborators and colleagues at TRIUMF. We are very fortunate to count him among our community.” 
Previously, Dilling received the Canadian Association of Physicists’ 2013 CAP-Vogt Award and the American Physical Society’s 2017 Francis M. Pipkin Award. 
Congratulations, Jens!