Save the World – and Discover New Worlds

Inaugural lecture: Professor Christopher Sansom

In his inaugural lecture, Professor Christopher Sansom described his journey through industrial research laboratories and academic institutions over a period of over four decades. His PhD in the early development of infrared detectors set the scene for a career in optical and thermal technologies. His research in infrared optics led him to energy harvesting, solar energy, and concentrating solar power (CSP), setting up the UK Centre for CSP to house the only UK research group working exclusively on CSP technologies and applications. Ultimately the activity broadened into renewable energy technologies and the realisation of zero-carbon.

Along the way came a diversion into Ultra Precision Engineering, including the machining of optical components for telescopes. Topically, this includes the machining of optical splitters and recombiners for the Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) in the recently launched James Webb NASA space telescope (the Hubble replacement); plus the grinding and plasma figuring of test mirror segments for the ground-based European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT), which will be the largest telescope ever built with its 39m diameter segmented primary mirror.

Inaugural Lecture Series: Professor Christopher Sansom

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Professor Christopher Sansom

Professor Christopher Sansom has a Physics degree from Liverpool University and a PhD from Sussex University. He is a Professor of CSP, and Leads the Zero Carbon Theme, at the University of Derby. After his PhD, he worked in research labs for Plessey, GEC, Marconi, and Perkin-Elmer, before entering Academia with Cranfield University where he remains a Visiting Professor. His interest in education goes back a long way since he has been an Open University (OU) course tutor and Associate Lecturer for over 35 years. He is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.