The 2020 Christiaan Huygens Medal is awarded to Raffaele Persico for remarkable work on both the theoretical foundations and practical applications of Ground Penetrating Radar technology.
Raffaele Persico contributed significantly to the development of Ground Penetrating Radar technology, a non-destructive geophysical method that uses electromagnetic waves to image the shallow subsurface of the Earth. A Ground Penetrating Radar system transmits short pulses of electromagnetic energy from an antenna into the ground. As the waves propagate downwards, reflection and scattering phenomena occur at the interfaces between media having different electromagnetic properties; thus, a portion of the electromagnetic energy comes back from the subsurface and is detected by the radar receiving antenna. By analysing the received signals, it is possible to infer the physical and geometrical properties of the subsurface.
Persico’s achievements cover a wide range of aspects pertaining to Ground Penetrating Radar, including theoretical principles, system design and practical applications. His contributions to system design are especially noteworthy and include his innovative concept of a reconfigurable stepped-frequency radar capable of working over an exceptionally wide frequency range, thus enabling the acquisition of subsurface data with both increased depth penetration and high resolution. The system designed by Persico allows reconfiguration not only in terms of frequency and antenna size, but also versus radiated power and integration time of each harmonic component.
In terms of applications, Persico made significant contributions on the use of Ground Penetrating Radar for archaeological prospection and cultural heritage preservation, including diverse international campaigns on noninvasive imaging of the subsurface and its integration with three-dimensional virtual reconstructions of archaeological sites and historical monuments, as well as innovative multidisciplinary combination of Ground Penetrating Radar and magnetometer data.
The work of Persico also covered practical aspects of the implementation of Ground Penetrating Radar in geophysical surveys, such as safety aspects, issues related to the positioning of the instrument, and approaches for handling electromagnetic interferences in the framework of Ground Penetrating Radar prospecting and of reconfigurable systems. Currently, Persico is investigating an innovative use of time-domain reflectometry for measuring the complex equivalent dielectric permittivity and magnetic permeability of a material in the field. The foundations of Ground Penetrating Radar methodology and inverse scattering theory have been presented by Persico in his influential book entitled “Introduction to Ground Penetrating Radar: Inverse Scattering and Data Processing”.
In addition to his individual achievements, Persico is a very active member of the international scientific community, organising international scientific meetings, participating in various scientific and technical committees, and fostering multidisciplinary applications of Ground Penetrating Radar. The multiple contributions of Raffaele Persico to the development of Ground Penetrating Radar technology make him a deserving recipient of the EGU Christiaan Huygens Medal.