The Stephen Hawking Fellowships were launched in 2019 by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), working with the Hawking family, in recognition of Prof Stephen Hawking’s achievements.
The fellowships look to answer the greatest unanswered questions in science, from how the universe evolved to what happens when black holes collide.
They will bring these fundamental questions about the nature of the universe to a wider audience through public engagement activities, inspiring a new generation through various media and outreach activities.
Dr Ballantine said: “I'm very honoured to receive this Fellowship and build on the legacy of Stephen Hawking, both in exploring important new physics and in explaining these concepts to the public in unique ways."
The second cohort of fellows, supported with a £4.5m investment, will conduct ground-breaking new research in theoretical physics and underpinning areas of science.
Through his fellowship Dr Ballantine aims to advance theories on how light interacts with atoms at a quantum level. These properties can be exploited for applications including: advanced quantum computing, communications and information processing.
He said: “Single layers of atoms, in regular arrays, can be used to shape light as it passes through or reflects from the layer. Since the arrays interact with single photons, the fundamental elementary particles which make up light, they can control quantum as well as classical properties.
"Arrays of atoms not only provide a new and exciting system to study quantum light-matter interactions at the fundamental level, but are also a very promising platform for future technologies.”
The Stephen Hawking fellowships are delivered by UKRI’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and Science and Technology Facilities Council.
UKRI chief executive, Prof Dame Ottoline Leyser, said: “Stephen Hawking not only radically altered our understanding of the universe, he also opened science out to millions of people across the world, through many routes from “A Brief History of Time” to appearing on the Simpsons.”
The new Stephen Hawking Fellows will build on that enduring legacy through their ambitious research and a mission to connect the public to research and innovation.