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The 2008 Nishina Memorial Prize

17 November 2008


A former member of TRIUMF has won the 2008 Nishina Memorial Prize, Japan’s most prestigious annual physics award. Ryu Hayano will receive the award on December 5, celebrating a remarkable career that he began as one of the first PhD students at TRIUMF in the 1970s. He was chosen for the prize for his work on the high resolution spectroscopy of antiprotonic helium that he carried out at CERN.

The Nishina Memorial Foundation was founded in 1955 in honour of Yoshio Nishina, who initiated the study of nuclear physics in Japan. During his lifetime, Nishina encouraged young physicists and promoted physics both in Japan and as an exchange of ideas between countries. The Foundation continues his efforts by awarding the Nishina Memorial Prize to those who achieve excellence in physics, inviting international scientists to Japan to conduct research and lectures, and helping Japanese physicists work abroad.

Hayano earned the prize through studying, since 1997, antiprotonic helium atoms as part of the ASACUSA collaboration at CERN’s antiproton decelerator. The experiment used high-precision laser spectroscopy to “weigh” the mass of the antipronoic helium, by deducing the ratio of antiprotons to electrons. The result is the most precise value to date.

Ryu Hayano completed both his MSc and his PhD at TRIUMF. After his time at the facility, he returned to Japan, where he is currently a professor at the University of Tokyo. He is also leader of the ASACUSA (Atomic Spectroscopy and Collisions Using Slow Antiprotons) group at CERN’s antiproton decelerator. In addition to this recent accolade, Hayano was also awarded the Inoue Prize for Science in 1998 for the discovery of the metastable Sigma hypernucleus and antiprotonic helium atom.

While at TRIUMF earning his degrees, Hayano helped push forward µSR, the study of muon spin, writing the early versions of the µSR data acquisition software. Jess Brewer recalls the incredible work that Ryu Hayano performed and believes that “µSR might not have flourished here without his contributions”. Working with Jess Brewer and Toshi Yamazaki, he participated in some of the first published µSR experiments at TRIUMF. Although he later moved on to particle and nuclear physics, Hayano maintained his relationship with Canadian scientists through collaborations such as the kaonic atom experiment at KEK and the ALPHA antihydrogen experiment at CERN.

TRIUMF offers our congratulations to Ryu Hayano for this most recent recognition of a career that has led to groundbreaking work in several different fields of physics.



Kaitlan Huckabone
TRIUMF's Communications Assistant