The co-founder of a nuclear fusion company said he is "excited" as he steps into a new role at the firm.

Dr Nick Hawker, co-founder of Oxford-based First Light Fusion, switched from his CEO role to become the company's chief scientific officer on April 16.

In his new role, Dr Hawker will steer the company's scientific mission and technology strategy, while continuing as a board member.

He will work with the firm's 56 strong science and engineering teams to work on transforming its technology into a commercially viable, scalable proposition for fusion energy production.

thisisoxfordshire: First Light FusionFirst Light Fusion (Image: First Light Fusion)

Dr Hawker said: "With recent advancements in inertial fusion, our unique technology remains as important as ever to solving fusion power.

"By expanding our leadership team, I can now focus my time on what I started doing back in 2011, leading and overseeing the technical and scientific strategy as we enter this new era of commercialisation of inertial fusion energy.

"The only difference now to then is I’ll be doing so with the incredible team of physicists and engineers I’m lucky to work with.”

Graham O’Keeffe, an experienced technology business leader, has joined the business as acting CEO.

He recently led a turnaround as chairman and CEO at DisplayLink, a developer of high-performance graphics processing semiconductor chips, with the company being acquired by Synaptics Inc.

First Light Fusion, co-founded by Dr Hawker and Professor Yiannis Ventikos in 2011, has grown from a project which started at Oxford University into a global heavyweight in the inertial fusion sector.

This month the company announced a major breakthrough towards solving the ‘standoff’ challenge – a fundamental requirement for the design of its concept fusion power plant.

thisisoxfordshire: First Light FusionFirst Light Fusion (Image: First Light Fusion)

Meanwhile in February, First Light announced it had become the first fusion company to successfully fire a shot on Sandia National Laboratories’ Z Machine, breaking the attained pressure record.

Chair of First Light Fusion’s board, Bart Markus, said: "With recent scientific progress internally and the significant 'ignition' milestone at the National Ignition Facility, First Light is entering its most exciting chapter yet.

"As part of this, Nick will move into a new role as chief scientific officer, giving him the capacity to lead our technical journey as we focus our long-term strategy on commercialising our unique amplifier technology and developing a commercially viable concept fusion power plant.

"I’m pleased to welcome Graham to the leadership team as acting CEO, bringing in a wealth of senior experience in leading successful deep technology businesses.

“Evolving and expanding our executive leadership team is a strategic decision to position First Light Fusion for future growth."