Satoshi Ozaki, a world-renowned physicist who helped design and build numerous particle accelerators for scientific research on two continents, died July 22, according to a statement from Brookhaven National Laboratory. He was 88.
Ozaki, a BNL senior scientist emeritus, was a key driver of international collaborations in high-energy and nuclear physics, including highly regarded work at Brookhaven Lab’s Alternating Gradient Synchrotron and Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider.
Calling him “one of the world’s foremost accelerator builders,” BNL Director Doon Gibbs said Ozaki – who first joined Brookhaven Lab in 1959, after earning a master’s degree in physics from Japan’s Osaka University and a PhD in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology – “had a tremendous impact on Brookhaven’s science.”
“His contributions to Brookhaven Lab were numerous, wide-ranging and always characterized by his wisdom,” Gibbs said in a statement. “The success of the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider stands as a monument to his leadership, but he also left an indelible mark on the National Synchrotron Light Source II.
“He was a wonderful mentor to many at Brookhaven and beyond, and he was a true friend.”
Upon joining BNL, Ozaki worked in a group he eventually co-led with Samuel Lindenbaum, focused on experiments at the AGS, including the development of state-of-the-art electronic detectors and an online data facility for monitoring detector performance – the first system of its kind, according to the Upton-based laboratory.
The Ozaki-Lindenbaum group also developed a “multiparticle spectrometer” that served many BNL experiments and collaborating universities.
The celebrated scientist’s work in experimental particle physics included the development of detectors for ISABELLE, BNL’s first crack at a dual-ring superconducting collider. He would later lead the development of RHIC, Brookhaven Lab’s 2.4 mile-circumference ion collider. The giant machine smashes together atomic particles at nearly the speed of light, offering an unprecedented glimpse at the building blocks of visible matter.
In between ISABELLE and RHIC, Ozaki returned to his native Japan to direct construction of TRISTAN, the Asian nation’s first high-energy particle collider.
“It was a pleasure to welcome Satoshi and his wife, Yoko, back to Brookhaven National Laboratory,” noted Nicholas Samios, who was BNL director when the scientist returned to head up RHIC in 1989. “The timing was auspicious: The construction of TRISTAN was successfully completed and RHIC was ready to be launched.
“Satoshi was the right man, at the right place, at the right time to head the RHIC construction project.”
In 2005, Ozaki joined the NSLS-II project, once again leading construction of a world-class facility. As the initial head of the NSLS-II Accelerator Division, he built the group from the ground up, attracting staff and leading development of the facility’s conceptual design.
In addition to securing Japanese support for RHIC-related projects, Ozaki played a key role in establishing partnership between BNL and RIKEN, Japan’s leading institute of physical and chemical research.
He also spent decades providing oversight of an agreement on high-energy physics between the Japanese and U.S. governments, laying the groundwork for several large-scale collaborations, and chaired the Accelerator System Advisory Committee for the DOE’s Facility for Rare Isotope Beams, currently under construction at Michigan State University.
Ozaki’s many accomplishments have been recognized with numerous prestigious awards, including the 2007 IEEE Nuclear and Plasma Sciences Society Accelerator Science and Technology Award, which he shared with Michael Harrison for leadership in the successful design and construction of RHIC.
He also received the 2009 Robert R. Wilson Prize of the American Physical Society for his contributions to accelerator science and technology on two continents and his promotion of international collaboration.
In 2012, he received a commendation from the Consul General of Japan, followed in 2013 by Japan’s prestigious Order of the Sacred Treasure. And In 2016, he received a Distinguished Science Award from Brookhaven Science Associates, the company that manages BNL for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science.
Ozaki was pre-deceased by his wife, Yoko, and is survived by their two children, Keiko Simon and Tsuyoshi Ozaki, as well as their spouses and four grandchildren.