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Professor Sir Keith Burnett

Roles and subjects

Honorary Fellow

Alumnus Sir Keith Burnett CBE, FRS, FInstP (Physics, 1975) is a British atomic physicist and past Vice-Chancellor of Sheffield University. He was formerly Head of the Division of Mathematical and Physical and Life Sciences at Oxford University.

His research specialises in the study of atoms at extremely low temperatures. In probing the behaviour of matter at fractions of a degree above absolute zero, he has helped establish limits on the temperatures and densities that can be reached through conventional cooling techniques.

Keith has also conducted research on the way in which atoms interact with intense laser fields, demonstrating that such fields can change the type of atomic collisions that take place. The theoretical models he has developed have been used to model a wide range of experiments, and have led to new insights across many areas of physics.

In addition to the Institute of Physics’s prestigious Thomas Young medal, Keith has been awarded a CBE as well as a knighthood for his services to science and higher education.