2017 Medal Winners | francais

The 2017 CAP Medal for Lifetime Achievement in Physics

is awarded to

Mark Sutton

"I am honoured and delighted for the recognition of my work by the CAP. I wish to thank my many collaborators, students and postdocs over the years, not only were they fun to work with, I learned a lot from them." winner citation

The Canadian Association of Physicists (CAP) is pleased to announce that the 2017 CAP Medal for Lifetime Achievement in Physics is awarded to Mark Sutton, McGill University, in recognition of for pioneering the development of coherent and time-resolved X-ray scattering techniques for the study of materials, and his resulting contributions to our understanding of materials and phase transitions. announcement

Mark Sutton is an internationally renowned experimentalist in condensed-matter physics. Sutton uses X-ray diffraction to study the behaviour of non-equilibrium condensed-matter systems. He has developed and applied, together with his colleagues, an important new X-ray technique called X-ray Photon Correlation Spectroscopy (XPCS), which makes use of the X-ray equivalent of optical speckle. This new probe directly measures the time evolution of equilibrium and non-equilibrium microstructures at length scales down to a nanometer with millisecond time resolution. The first demonstration of the use of coherent X-rays for XPCS was reported by Sutton et al. in Nature in 1991. This breakthrough paper has generated a very successful series of trend-setting papers and reviews.

The method was further developed by Professor Sutton and his collaborators to investigate important problems in condensed-matter physics involving phase transitions and complex fluids. For example, in his recent studies, last on AuAgZn2, where he determined its order-disorder critical temperature he directly observed critical fluctuations and critical slowing down. Sutton has also applied XPCS to polymer systems, measuring wave vector-dependent time constants in these technologically-important materials. Sutton has used XPCS to show that domain coarsening involves persistent large-scale fluctuations during phase separation during spinodal decomposition and order-disorder transitions. To put this achievement into context, it is probably the most significant experimental work on first-order phase transition kinetics in the last decade.

Sutton's research has always had two equally important main areas of development. The first is to develop better instrumentation and techniques for in-situ time-resolved x-ray scattering to help address his research interests in basic science. He has been involved in designing and building instrumentation at the world brightest x-ray synchrotron sources and the new x-ray laser at SLAC. The second focus is to understand the underlying physics by performing experiments on materials where microstructure plays an important role. nominator citation

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