27 June 2011

Who is Alan Hewat ?

In 2007 Alan Hewat retired from the ILL in Grenoble France to establish NeutronOptics. For 13 years he had lead the Neutron Diffraction group, the largest of 5 instrument groups at the Institute Laue-Langevin (ILL) which operates the European high flux reactor, the world's most powerful neutron source.

He holds an M.Sc. and Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Melbourne, Australia (Queen's College), plus an honorary Ph.D. in Chemistry and the Linnaeus Medal from Uppsala University, Sweden. He has acted as an International Atomic Energy Agency expert in several countries including China and South Korea, and lectured in almost every country working with neutron scattering - in particular, the United States, Canada, Russia, China, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Australia and most European countries. He was particularly pleased to be asked to lecture to the Islamic Academy of Sciences in 2002. He has published over 300 scientific papers and book chapters, and in particular the ILL's most highly cited papers on high-Tc superconductivity. A selection of his publications and lectures can be found on http://hewat.net/science/

From 1961 he worked as a student at the Australian Atomic Energy reactor in Sydney, and before moving to France in 1973 was a Scientific Fellow at the UK Atomic Energy Authority in Oxfordshire. He later worked for a sabbatical year in 1984 at the UK pulsed neutron source ISIS when it was first commissioned. He was recruited to ILL by R.L. Mossbauer when the UK joined the European community and at the same time the European high flux reactor, as one of the first "British" scientists in Grenoble.

He has long had an interest in scientific instrumentation and computing, programming tables of thermodynamic functions in Fortran-II on one of the first IBM mainframe's in 1961. In 1972 he developed and popularised Rietveld's method for powder diffraction analysis, and most profile refinement programmes today have their roots in that original source code. He developed the D1A and D2B neutron powder diffractometers that have become models for similar machines throughout the world, but also helped define the HRPD time-of-flight neutron diffractometer at ISIS with Sir Brian Fender, as well as single crystal machines at ILL, in particular those using large 2D detectors and CCD cameras. In 1995 he initiated the WWW interface to the world's Inorganic Crystal Structure Database (ICSD), and still helps maintain it, especially the Java based jmol drawing of 3D structures.

Alan is married to Elizabeth (E.A. Hewat), a fellow student from Melbourne who obtained her doctorate in Physics from Oxford, and who until recently worked for the Institut de Biologie Structurale (CEA) in Grenoble. They have three children, Dr Alison, Marcus and Peter, and three grandchildren, who live in Paris and Hamburg. Other interests include presiding over his local housing association, hiking in the mountains and family history; his gg.grandfather John H. was an early settler in Australia, and his gggg.grandfather Andrew H. was expelled from America and his property confiscated for being on the wrong side of the revolution!

Download a selection of lectures and publications

Alan William Hewat (alan.hewat[a]gmail.com)