Dr. Jim Benford

Project Forward Lead and Project Icarus Designer

James Benford is President of Microwave Sciences in Lafayette, California, which deals with high power microwave systems from conceptual designs to hardware. His interests include microwave source physics, electromagnetic power beaming for space propulsion, experimental intense particle beams and plasma physics. In recent years, his clients included 33 private companies, including the aerospace primes, 11 U.S. and foreign government agencies such as NASA and DoD, and 5 universities. His work on fusion research began in 1965 with experiments on reversed-field configurations. This led to work on intense particle beam properties such as propagation and confinement. He led development of fusion reactor concepts using intense beams (electron and ion) for heating in toroidal and linear multiple-mirror geometries. He began space-related studies in 1993, focusing on research into microwave and millimetre wave-based applications. He led the team that in 2000 demonstrated first flight of photon-driven carbon sails using microwave beams. His work now concentrates on beam-powered propulsion. Previously, he worked at Physics International, where he directed the High Power Microwave (HPM) Division, conducting research and developing a product line in HPM components and systems. He managed the building of Orion, the state-of-the-art HPM testing facility. He earned an M.S. (1995) and Ph.D. (1969) in Physics at the University of California San Diego. In 1997, he was elected a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineering for “transferring high power microwave sources and systems into custom commercial products”. He has written 139 scientific papers and 6 books on physics topics, including the textbook, High Power Microwaves, now in its Second Edition. Over the last two decades, he has taught 22 courses in High Power Microwaves in nine countries.