Peter L. Hagelstein is a principal investigator in the Research Laboratory of Electronics (RLE) and an associate professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He received a bachelor of science and a master of science degree in 1976, then a Doctor of Philosophy degree in electrical engineering in 1981, from MIT. He was a staff member of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory from 1981 to 1985 before joining the MIT faculty in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science in 1986.

Hagelstein's early work focused on extreme ultraviolet and soft X-ray lasers, relativistic atomic structure and electron collision physics, autoionization and dielectronic recombination processes, plasma population kinetics, radiation transport and large scale physics simulation. He received the Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award in 1984 for his innovation and creativity in X-ray laser physics. While working in the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory he pioneered the work that later produced the first X-ray laser, which would later become important for the US Strategic Defense Initiative, popularly referred to as the "Star Wars" program.[1]

In 1989 he started investigating cold fusion (also called low-energy nuclear reactions) with the hope of making a breakthrough similar to the X-ray laser.[2] In the period between 1989 and 2004, the field became discredited in the eyes of many scientists. Due to his involvement, as of 2004 he has not achieved full professorship and he has lost his own laboratory.[2]

His recent efforts have included the invention of semiconductor technology that could allow efficient, affordable production of electricity from a variety of energy sources,[3][4] as well as continuing investigations of low-energy nuclear reactions. Hagelstein is the co-author of a new textbook, Introductory Applied Quantum and Statistical Mechanics, and chaired the Tenth International Conference on Cold Fusion in 2003.[5]


  1. ^ William J. Broad (1985). Star warriors: a penetrating look into the lives of the young scientists behind our space age weaponry. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 978-0-671-54566-6. 
  2. ^ a b Beth Daley (July 27, 2004), "Heating up a cold theory", The Boston Globe, (subscription required (help)) 
  3. ^ Chang, Kenneth (November 27, 2001). "A Practical Way to Make Power From Wasted Heat". The New York Times. 
  4. ^ Chandler, David L. (November 18, 2009). "Turning heat to electricity". MIT. Retrieved July 17, 2014. 
  5. ^ Hecht, Jeff (April 23, 2004). "Is Cold Fusion Heating Up?". Technology Review. MIT. Retrieved April 6, 2011.