Professor Peter A R Ade

BSc, PhD, FRAS, CPhys, FInstP

School of Physics and Astronomy

Admin duties

  • Various committees.
  • Oversees School workshops.

Professor Ade received his PhD from the then Queen Mary College, University of London, in 1973 (Graduate Supervisor: Professor John Bastin).  He continued his research through Research Council fellowship and PDRA positions (Mentor: Professor Peter Clegg) until being appointed as a lecturer at Queen Mary and Westfield College in 1976.  Whilst at QMW, he built up a submillimetre wave instrumentation group which specialised in producing state-of-the-art instruments for use in both atmospheric and astronomical research.  He was promoted to Reader in 1986 and later to full professor in 1994.  He is a member of the Royal Astronomical Society and is a chartered physicist with the Institute of Physics.

In the summer of 2001 Professor Ade relocated the Astrophysics Instrumentation Group to Cardiff to form the central part of a now significantly enlarged Astronomical Instrumentation Group.  This merger, along with significant investment in new laboratory facilities (JIF, HEFCW and University funded), has enabled Cardiff to become one of the strongest mm/submm astronomical instrumentation groups in the world.   It is developing state-of-the-art technology whilst having the capability to fully exploit the scientific data from its involvement in a wide range of front-rank experiments.

Professor Ade has enjoyed over thirty years' experience in instrumental design and manufacture whilst pursuing his observational astrophysics and atmospheric science interests.  His involvement in atmospheric observations started in 1971 when he made some of the first airborne measurements of the submillimetre spectral emission from the atmosphere using helium cooled detector with a Fourier Transform spectrometer.  Since then he has pioneered the development of Helium-3 cooled submillimetre bolometric instruments for Astrophysical & Atmospheric observations thus, opening up a difficult waveband to the astronomical community.  One particular aspect of this work was the need to precisely define the detection band when using inherently broadband detectors.  His pioneering work on the development of metal mesh filters has become the standard technology for wavelength selection across the 30 m to millimetre region.  This technology has proven critical to the development of low pass, high pass, band pass, Half Wave Plates, polarisers, dichroics, FTS intensity beam dividers, F-P plates and thermal reflectors which have enabled a wide range of specialised instruments to be made. Cardiff is accepted as the world leader in this technology.

Professor Ade has been involved with the development and deployment of many astronomical instruments (Scuba, ISO-LWS, Cassini-CIRS, Mars-PMIRR, Boomerang, Maxima, Acbar, Maxipol, Bolocam).  Current activities include provision of a second-generation camera for the JCMT (SCUBA-2), Co-Investigator on the Herschel-SPIRE instrument, the MIPS instrument for SIRTF, the Clover B-mode experiment and UK instrument scientist for the Planck Surveyor High Frequency Instrument (HFI). The latter mission is designed to measure all the fundamental cosmological parameters to unprecedented sensitivities.

In addition he has CoI status on a number of sub-orbital missions for which he provides support by designing and providing optical components along with a full involvement in the science output.  These currently include; BLAST, EBEX, MBI, SuSIE III (Sunyaev Zel'Dovich experiment), PILOT, and OLIMPO.

In atmospheric science Professor Ade has assisted with the development of SAFIRE (Spectroscopy of the Atmosphere using Far Infra-Red Emission), an airborne FTS instrument for studies of HOx species in the stratosphere and the FIRSC, an instrument to make the first FIR measurements of cirrus clouds.  He is currently developing a cirrus radiometer under the COSMAS2 programme.

Honours and awards

  • NASA Public Servise Medal 1994.
  • RAS Jackson-Gwilt medal 2009.
  • Invited talks at international conferences.
  • PX1123 Experimental Physics I
  • PX3105 Optics and Fourier Transforms.
  • PG lectures.

Research interests

  • Experimental Cosmology.
  • Astronomical Instrumentation.
  • Remote sounding instrumentation.
  • Fourier Transform Spectroscopy.
  • UK Instrument Scientist for Planck-HFI and local team leader.
  • Leading the SCUBA-2 project team at Cardiff.
  • PI for Clove B-mode experiment at Cardiff.
  • Development of novel Filters for use from FIR to mm wavelengths.


Two PhD students.

Numerous Post-Doctoral Research Assistants (PDRAs).