NEWS | Nov. 13, 2012

Dr. Marc Christophersen Receives 2012 Sigma Xi Young Investigator Award

By Donna McKinney

Dr. Marc Christophersen, a physical scientist in High Energy Space Environment Branch of the Space Science Division, is the recipient of the 2012 Young Investigator Award from the NRL Edison Chapter of the Sigma Xi scientific research society. Sigma Xi's Young Investigator Award recognizes scientists for outstanding research within 10 years of their highest earned degree and their ability to communicate their research to the public. Dr. Christophersen is recognized for ground-breaking designs in high-energy radiation detector systems utilizing nanofabrication techniques.

Dr. Christophersen studied at the University of Kiel in Kiel, Germany, receiving his undergraduate degree in 1995, his masters in science degree in 1998 and his Ph.D. in 2002, in material science and engineering. He joined the High Energy Space Environment Branch at NRL in 2007 as a National Research Council Resident Associate. With training in materials science and nanofabrication, his research interests have been related to using his experience and the capabilities of NRL's Institute for Nanoscience to develop new room-temperature semiconductor sensors for x-ray and gamma-ray detection and improving high energy detector systems with novel approaches to manufacturing through micromachining. At the end of this NRC postdoc residency in 2009, he became a federal employee in the Branch. In his 5 years at NRL, his research has addressed a broad range of problems in developing the thick planar semiconductor materials needed to improve performance in detecting the energetic x-ray and gamma-ray photons and has resulted in six patents.

As an example of his contributions, Dr. Jill Dahlburg, superintendent of NRL's Space Science Division, notes his novel solution to a persistent problem with thick silicon detectors. Dr. Christophersen led the basic research and the necessary applied engineering studies to demonstrate the possibility of edgeless silicon radiation detectors. This work has led to multiple patent submissions and is the basis for the next generation detectors at CERN, the world's premier particle accelerator center.

Dr. Christophersen's basic and early-applied research investigations, Dr. Dahlburg said, are leading to new nanofabrication technologies that are highly applicable to a broad range of high-energy astrophysics, particle physics, nuclear medicine, and Department of Defense programs, including those that require tiled semiconductor sensor arrays such as large focal plane array for space surveillance or ground imagery.

He is a member of the German Physical Society, DPG; the Materials Research Society, MRS; the Electrochemical Society, ECS; the American Chemical Society, ACS; and the American Intellectual Property Law Association, AIPLA.

Sigma Xi promotes the promise of science and technology and fosters interaction among science, technology, and society; encourages appreciation and support of original work in science and technology; and honors scientific research accomplishments.