Professor Payne receives Swan Medal

by Rachel Smith

Professor Michael Payne has been awarded the 2014 Swan Medal from the Institute of Physics.


The Swan Medal is given for outstanding contributions to the organisation or application of physics in an industrial or commercial context. Professor Payne has received the medal in recognition of his work to develop ‘computational techniques that have revolutionised material designs and facilitated the industrial application of quantum mechanical simulations’.

Payne’s major contribution to the field was the development of the ‘CASTEP code’. This code forms the basis of a powerful piece of software that can calculate the electronic properties of a material based only on the atomic numbers of its constituent atoms. The software has manifold uses in both academia and industry. Payne also played a crucial part in bringing the product to market; its cumulative sales now exceed $30 million.

Professor Payne is currently Head of the Theory of Condensed Matter group at the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge. The Institute of Physics states: ‘Payne is an outstanding scientist and innovator. He has provided leadership both in developing and marketing CASTEP and in fostering a new model for academic software development.’

More information is available on the Institute of Physics website.