Peter Knight

Peter Knight

  • Professor of Physics (Research)

PhD, Sussex University, 1972

Imperial College London
+44 (207) 594-7727



Professor Sir Peter Knight is Senior Research Investigator in the Physics Department at Imperial College and Principal of the Kavli Royal Society International Centre at Chicheley Hall. He retired in September 2010 as Deputy Rector (Research) at Imperial College where he was responsible for the College’s research strategy.  He was a member of the Imperial College Management Board and Council, and Professor of Quantum Optics. He was knighted in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2005 for his work in optical physics. He was until 2008 Principal of the Faculty of Natural Sciences at Imperial College London. He was Head of the Physics Department, Imperial College London from 2001 to 2005. Peter Knight is a Past-President of the Optical Society of America and was for 7 years a member of their Board of Directors. He is a Director of the OSA Foundation. He was coordinator of the SERC Nonlinear Optics Initiative, past-chair of the EPS Quantum Electronics and Optics Division and Editor of the Journal of Modern Optics from 1987 to 2006. He is Editor of Contemporary Physics and serves on a number of other Editorial Boards. He is a Thomson-ISI “Highly Cited Author.”

Sir Peter was until December 2010 chair of the Defence Scientific Advisory Council at the UK Ministry of Defence, remains a Government science advisor and is a Council member of the Science and Technology Facilities Council. Sir Peter was also Chief Scientific Advisor at the UK National Physical Laboratory until the end of 2005. His research centres on theoretical quantum optics, strong field physics and especially on quantum information science. He has won a number of prizes and awards including the Thomas Young Medal and the Glazebrook Medal of the Institute of Physics, the Ives Medal of the OSA and the Royal Medal of the Royal Society. He has been a Visiting Professor at the University of Louvain-la-Neuve, a Humboldt Research Award holder at the University of Konstanz and a Visiting Scholar at the University of Texas at Austin and at the University of Rochester. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Physics, the Optical Society of America and of the Royal Society. He was an elected member of Council of the Royal Society from 2005 to 2007 and was a member of their Audit Committee and chair of the Hooke Committee responsible for scientific meetings at the Royal Society. He is chair of the University Research Fellowships Ai Panel for 2010-11.

After his doctorate at Sussex University, Sir Peter joined the group of Joe Eberly as a Research Associate from 1972-1974 in the Department of Physics and Astronomy of the University of Rochester and at the Physics Department and SLAC, Stanford University, USA, followed by a period as SRC Research Fellow 1974-1976 at Sussex University; and in 1976 was Visiting Scientist at the Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, USA. In 1976 he became Jubilee Research Fellow, 1976-1978 Royal Holloway College, London University, followed by an SERC Advanced Fellowship from 1978-1983, first at RHC from 1978 to 1979, transferring in 1979 to Imperial College. He has remained ever since at Imperial College (apart from very frequent visits to the USA), first as a Lecturer 1983-1987, then Reader 1987-1988 and Professor since 1988.

Research Overview

Research Interests

  • theoretical atomic
  • molecular and optical physics