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UTA Physicist wins American Physical Society instrumentation award

University of Texas at Arlington


IMAGE: David Nygren was honored with the first instrumentation award from the American Physical Society. Pictured from left are Ian Shipley, co-chair CPAD American Physical Society; Hucheng Chen, Brookhaven National Laboratory,... view more

Credit: UT Arlington

ARLINGTON, Texas - UTA Physicist David Nygren, a member of the National Academy of Science, has been honored as one of two recipients of a new American Physical Society's instrumentation award for his widespread and lifelong contributions in the field of particle physics.

Nygren is the Presidential Distinguished Professor of Physics in The University of Texas at Arlington's College of Science. He developed the Time Projection Chamber in 1974 to enable accurate and complete capture of results when high-energy particles collide. Such collisions can lead to the production of hundreds or even thousands of new particles.

The Time Projection Chamber has been used worldwide for more than three decades in particle detection and discovery, ranging from relativistic heavy ion collisions to the search for Dark Matter and extremely rare nuclear decays.

The Society's Division of Particles and Fields Instrumentation Award specifically recognized Nygren's work, which has led to the development by many physicists and engineers of the extremely large volume liquid argon Time Projection Chambers that are now a key element in the global particle physics program.

The Division also honored Veljko Radeka of Brookhaven National Laboratory. Radeka developed noble liquid argon calorimeters used in many high-energy physics experiments and the highly sensitive, low-noise electronics needed for the readout of the small signals from these detectors.

These two contributions are now being combined in the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment, or DUNE, the flagship project of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. The DUNE project will employ a 40,000-ton liquid argon Time Projection Chamber, combined with ultra-sensitive, low-noise, cold electronics to study the fundamental properties of the elusive neutrino.

"I am honored to be the first recipient of this award," Nygren said. "Since its origin, my Time Projection Chamber idea has evolved to include many other applications in physics such as the search for very rare events. Forty years after invention, it is rare indeed for a technique to display such adaptive powers."

Morteza Khaledi, dean of the College of Science, commended Nygren, noting that the award heightens awareness of faculty excellence at UTA and in the College.

"David Nygren's selection as first recipient of the DPF Instrumentation Award is a well-deserved achievement," Khaledi said. "We are proud of the tremendous work that he and colleagues in the Department of Physics are doing to elevate scholarship and research at UT Arlington."

Duane Dimos, UTA vice president for research, added that "Nygren's work with the Time Projection Chamber opened up multiple lines of inquiry in particle physics and has created opportunities for UTA to participate in international research projects at the highest level. It is a tremendous achievement."

Nygren and Radeka accepted the awards Monday at UTA during the "New Technologies for Discovery" workshop organized by the Coordinating Panel for Advanced Detectors of the Division of Particles and Fields of the American Physical Society to discuss the challenges ahead for High Energy Physics in the United States.

Marcel Demarteau, co-chair of the panel, emphasized "this award really recognizes the role of Nygren and Radeka in advancing the field of particle physics and their leadership in the development of instrumentation technologies that continue to spearhead advances in our field."

Nygren joined the UT Arlington Department of Physics in August 2014. He previously worked at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory for more than 30 years. Nygren earned his Ph.D. at the University of Washington in 1967 and is a fellow of the American Physical Society.

Among the many distinguished awards he has received are the Aldo Menzione Prize, the Berkeley Lab Prize - Lifetime Achievement Award, the Panofsky Prize in Experimental Particle Physics and the Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award from the Department of Energy.


About The University of Texas at Arlington

The University of Texas at Arlington is a comprehensive research institution of more than 51,000 students in campus-based and online degree programs and is the second-largest institution in The University of Texas System. The Chronicle of Higher Education ranked UT Arlington as one of the 20 fastest-growing public research universities in the nation in 2014. U.S. News & World Report ranks UT Arlington fifth in the nation for undergraduate diversity. The University is a Hispanic-Serving Institution and is ranked as a "Best for Vets" college by Military Times magazine. Visit to learn more, and find UT Arlington rankings and recognition at

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