Dstl Careers: Dr. Tim Kendall, Senior Scientist and Laser Physicist – Case Study

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The development of the laser is a next-generation technology that could revolutionize the battlefield and reduce human and material losses.

A path to laser physics

I was doing a degree in applied physics, which included a year in industry at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. I worked with large and dangerous amounts of krypton fluoride on a laser system called ‘Titania’ for inertial confinement fusion research which is terra-watt peak powers in a very short pulse duration .

My work was not at all glamorous and I understood almost nothing about it, but I found it all very fascinating. It was then that I decided to change my degree to optoelectronic engineering (“laser physics”) in my final year.

For my end-of-year project, I built a laser, which got me accepted into the PhD program at the University of Southampton’s Optoelectronics Research Centre. After working as a research scientist for a few years, I eventually got a job in the fiber optic laser construction industry, but it was the defense job that really interested me – and that was it. that’s when I came to dstl.

dstl began building and specifying lasers for air survivability, such as optically guided threat laser jamming, with small forays into laser protection and threat warning. While working at dstlDr. Kendall had the opportunity to help develop a basic laser-directed energy weapon (LDEW) at the Porton Down Electro-Optical Facility.

Dr. Kendall now works as part of the energy weapons team, dividing his work between the lab, office, and home. He also directs all laser range activities, as the only test driving officer with a license to run laser tests at dstl Door down.

In addition to his work on the range, Dr. Kendall is the lead laser physicist for the Laser Directed Energy Weapon (DEW) Program, offering advice on technology development and experimental testing activities, with some involvement in laser safety.

The best defense science job?

I can push the limits of what is physically possible – in which case I can make things really hot, really fast, with a cleverly designed single frequency beam of light.

I work with like-minded people within dstlacademia and industry, and I truly believe that by researching this, we make the world a better place and a safer place.

Every day at dstl is different, there is very rarely a boring day, I enjoy solving problems and I love my job, which I think very few people can say.

Did I mention I can engrave stuff with a big laser?

work-life balance

I have a very demanding daughter at home and dstl went out of their way to let me know that she comes first. I spend time pushing my daughter on a swing, so what’s really wrong with this work-life balance?

Next step for laser science

Dr. Kendall can’t wait to see her work in action. Once the science is fully determined, the first laser weapons will undergo field trials on a number of Royal Navy and British Army platforms.

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