UCL Department of Physics and Astronomy

Dr Mike Esten

Dr Mike Esten

Emeritus Reader in Physics

Dept of Physics & Astronomy

Faculty of Maths & Physical Sciences

Joined UCL
1st Oct 2000

Research summary

My research career has centred on elementary particle physics.

1956 - 76 : I worked mostly with heavy liquid bubble chambers, culminating in the important discovery of neutral currents in neutrino interactions.

1977 – 91 : I moved to a series of electronic experiments (NA25, NA19, WA75, WA78, NA34 + various derivates) in each of which I played a major role. The period 1981-6 was spent full-time at CERN as a Senior Scientific Associate staff member. In all these experiments except the last, I was responsible for design and implementation of the trigger and data acquisition systems, which, in the case of WA78 represented the “state-of-the art” of combined multi-level trigger and data acquisition technology. It resulted in the UCL team making the first meaningful determination of the BB mixing parameter.

1991 onwards: I moved to detector development and other instrumentation problems, making particular contributions to the development of gaseous microstrip detectors.

These large elementary particle physics experiments led naturally to some interesting items of “technology transfer”. For example, after discussion with Prof A Boksenberg in the late 1960's, I realised that some computational techniques employed in radiation shielding could be modified to apply to the straylight performance of optical systems operating under the extreme conditions found in certain space experiments. This resulted in applications to many scientific satellites and also found applications in neutron beam guide-tubes.


I graduated from UCL Dept of Physics in 1956 and was awarded the University Granville Studentship to work there for a Ph.D. I spent 1960 and 1961 as a CERN Fellow in Geneva , after which I returned to UCL where I was appointed Lecturer in 1964, Senior Lecturer in 1971 and Reader in 1996. I retired from UCL in 2000, but remain Emeritus Reader in Physics. My interests outside physics have been in the mountains. I have been Vice-President of the Alpine Club (the earliest mountaineering club in the world) and of the Alpine Ski Club (the earliest ski-mountaineering club in the UK ).