Dr. Joe Kilkenny received his B.Sc., ARCS, in 1968 and his Ph.D. D.I.C. in 1972 from Imperial College, University of London. He performed experimental research in magnetically confined plasmas, high power and beam research at Imperial College, and laser plasma research at the Rutherford Laboratory and the Atomic Weapons Establishment. He became a Reader (equivalent to Professor) in 1982. During this time, he performed seminal research on nonlinear thermal transport in plasmas, Rayleigh-Taylor instabilities, ablation pressure scaling, EXAFS and absorption x-ray spectroscopy while also supervising 15 graduate students, many of whom now occupy senior positions in High Energy Density (HED) Physics in the US and the UK. In 1984 he moved to the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and began work on laser plasma research on Nova. Highlights of his research include plasma spectroscopy, fast-electron generation and transport, and high-pressure equation-of-state measurements of deuterium. He also worked on hydrodynamic instabilities in laser fusion and high-speed x-ray diagnostic development. Experiments he initiated were the basis for favorable recommendations of the National Academy of Science on constructing the National Ignition Facility at LLNL. During that time, Dr. Kilkenny was the ICF Program Manager at LLNL and the technical manager of the experiments on Nova. He initiated the university use effort on Nova, which engaged academic involvement in HED experiments. During a period where he was also Associate Director at LLE, he helped develop the scientific case for OMEGA EP and invented the concept of Polar Direct Drive.
Dr. Kilkenny led the development of innovative diagnostics for HED experiments. While performing research at Imperial College, he built his own diagnostics for experiments. This led to the formation of Kentech Instruments, a world leader in the area of high speed instrumentation. He continued his efforts at LLNL, where he developed high-speed x-ray imaging cameras and plasma diagnostics for the Nova laser. In 2008, he was asked to lead the development of diagnostics on NIF, which resulted in over 80 diagnostics being installed and commissioned on NIF, in an international collaboration of scientists from universities and other national laboratories. Currently he is the NIF Chief Experimentalist, where he is leading a national effort in the development of transformative diagnostics for HED. Dr. Kilkenny is the senior member of the APS-DPP High Temperature Plasma Diagnostics Conference committee, running the Conference twice in the last forty years.
From 2003 until 2008, Dr. Kilkenny led an effort at General Atomics in the area of target fabrication of HED targets. He and his team innovated many aspects of target fabrication which are now routine such a Be coatings, micro fill tube technology and U coatings. He developed GA into a world class HED target manufacturer. He strengthened a quality program and ensured ISO 9000 accreditation. He established a partner relationship with LLNL, LANL, SNL, LLE and MIT to provide the targets needed for their experiments.
Dr. Kilkenny’s scientific leadership has been recognized by a number of awards and honors. In 1990, he became a fellow of the American Physical Society for significant contributions to the study of energy transport, hydrodynamics, implosion physics, x-ray spectroscopy, and advanced diagnostics of laser-produced plasmas. In 1993 he received the SPIE Conrady Award for the development of high-speed x-ray imaging cameras and an IR 100 award for high-speed electronics. In 1995 he received the John Dawson Award for Excellence in Plasma Physics Research for experiments leading to quantitative understanding of the Rayleigh-Taylor instability in high energy density plasmas. In 2005 he received the American Nuclear Society Teller award. In 2016 he received the Fusion Power Associates Leadership Award. He has over 200 peer-reviewed publications in HED.