NEWS | March 18, 2014

Dr. Thomas A. Mehlhorn Named 2014 IEEE Fellow

By Daniel Parry

The IEEE Board of Directors has announced that Dr. Thomas A. Mehlhorn, superintendent of the Plasma Physics Division at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), has been named a Fellow of the IEEE for leadership in the understanding of intense, pulsed electron and ion beams. The Grade of Fellow is conferred by the IEEE Board of Directors upon individuals for an outstanding record of accomplishments.

This recognition is primarily based on Mehlhorn's research at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, N.M., generating and focusing intense electron and ion beams driven by pulsed power machines, such as Proto-I, and the Particle Beam Fusion Accelerators (PBFA-I and PBFA-II). It also acknowledges his ongoing leadership of intense beam research at NRL on Gamble II and Mercury, as well as beams generated by ultrashort-pulse laser acceleration.

He is perhaps best known for his comprehensive model for ion-beam stopping power in plasmas of arbitrary ionization, which was validated in the first measurement of enhanced ion stopping power in plasmas at NRL in 1982 and in Sandia experiments on Proto-I in 1985. Mehlhorn also collaborated on the development of an internationally used electron/photon Monte Carlo transport code Integrated TIGER Series (ITS) in 1984 and extended its physics model up to 1-gigaelectronvolt (GeV) of electron energy.

From 1991 to 1994 he led the Light Ion Beam Fusion project that ultimately focused a lithium ion beam on PBFA-II to two terawatts per square centimeter (TW/cm2) and heated a hohlraum to 65 electron volts (eV); both world records. His contributions to ion beam stopping, generation, transport, focusing, diagnostics, and applications are documented in his 1997 IEEE 25th anniversary review article.

Mehlhorn earned a B.S., M.S., and a Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering from the University of Michigan in 1974, 1976 and 1978, respectively. He worked at Sandia National Laboratories as a member of technical staff (1978-1988), department manager (1989-2005), and senior manager (2006-2009). His research interests included intense electron and ion beams generation, focusing and interactions; inertial confinement fusion; high energy density physics; Z-pinch physics; dynamic materials and shock physics; and advanced radiography.

A member of the Department of the Navy (DoN) Senior Executive Service, Mehlhorn is responsible for a broad spectrum of research programs in plasma physics, laboratory discharge and space plasmas, intense electron and ion beams and photon sources, atomic physics, pulsed power sources, radiation hydrodynamics, high-power microwaves, laser physics, advanced spectral diagnostics, and nonlinear systems.

Mehlhorn is a Fellow of the APS Division of Plasma Physics, a Fellow of the AAAS in Physics, and a member of the American Nuclear Society. He received the University of Michigan Engineering Alumni Society Merit Award in Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences in 2004. He has also received two NNSA Defense Programs Awards of Excellence, a Lockheed Martin NOVA award, and two NRL Alan Berman Research Publication Awards.

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