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New interviews, events at Royal Academies and Polytechnique mark laser anniversary

09 July 2010

Bellingham, Washington, USA -- The ubiquitous and versatile laser continues to be celebrated in its golden anniversary year with new luminary video interviews, news features on recent research developments, and celebrations in London, Paris, and Barcelona.

Interviews with Gérard Mourou, École Polytechnique, inventor of CPA (chirped pulse amplification); Adolf Giesen, German Aerospace Center (DLR), disk laser pioneer; and Kumar Patel (Pranalytica), inventor of the CO2 laser, are the latest releases in the SPIE Advancing the Laser video series. See more than two dozen interviews and watch for new videos weekly in the SPIE Newsroom

Work by the team at Tel Aviv Univ. led by Abraham Katzir in using lasers to close wounds and incisions is detailed in the open-access article "Lasers: The Future of Suture" from the July issue of the quarterly member magazine SPIE Professional.

Links to the SPIE virtual laser museum featuring more than 100 vintage lasers and other open-access articles and information are at advancingthelaser.org. The laser museum and a tribute photo display of laser luminaries and the timeline of the technology's development will be displayed at SPIE Optics and Photonics 1-5 August in San Diego.

Luminaries and Nobel Laureates

Recent celebrations at the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAE) in London, the Louvre and École Polytechnique in Paris, and the Royal Academy of Sciences and Arts of Barcelona brought together many of the leading developers of laser technology. See photos of recent laser celebrations.

Among presenters at RAE in June, Colin Webb (Univ. of Oxford) talked about important work there and elsewhere in the United Kingdom, and early work at Bell Labs in the heady early days of the laser, particularly 1964-68. He paid tribute to the importance of the early work of John Deech, William Silfvast, John Ward, and Daniel Bradley, formerly of Queens Univ. Belfast. Anthony Siegman (Stanford Univ.), Wilson Sibbett (Univ. of St. Andrews), and David Payne (Univ. of Southampton), also presented.

Brian Collins, chief scientific adviser for the UK Department of Transport, noted the use of lidar in the recent volcanic cloud crisis, and underscored the need to support basic research. Collins' work on fundamental quantum optics in the 1970s preceded quantum communication applications.

RAE President Lord Browne spoke about the diversity of applications, noting the work of Nobel Laureates Charles Townes (Univ. of California, Berkeley, and Sir Charles Kao, including Kao's work in fiber optic communications and Townes' IR interferometry research, including more than 20 papers since he turned 90.

Townes and Kao attended the celebrations at both RAE and the Louvre and Polytechnique. Fellow Laureates at the celebration in France in June included Nicolaas Bloembergen (Univ. of Arizona), Claude Cohen-Tannoudji (École Normale Supérieure), Ahmed Zewail (California Institute of Technology), and Herbert Kroemer (Univ. of California, Santa Barbara). Juris Upatnieks, co-inventor of 3D holography, Catherine Césarsky (Haut Commissaire à l'Energie Atomique), and Ferenc Krausz (Max Planck Institute) were also among the presenters.

In Barcelona in May, the Royal Academy of Sciences and Arts of Barcelona (www.racab.es) celebrated the laser anniversary with two scientific talks. Luis Roso (Center of Ultrashort and Ultraintense Pulsed Laser, Univ. de. Salamanca;  www.usal.es/clpu) spoke on the history of the laser, and Lluis Torner (Institute of Photonic Sciences; www.icfo.es) spoke on the laser in nanomedicine. Both centers participate in the network of European Laser Centers.

SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, was founded in 1955 to advance light-based technologies. Serving more than 180,000 constituents from 168 countries, the Society advances emerging technologies through interdisciplinary information exchange, continuing education, publications, patent precedent, and career and professional growth. SPIE annually organizes and sponsors approximately 25 major technical forums, exhibitions, and education programs in North America, Europe, Asia, and the South Pacific, and supports scholarships, grants, and other education programs around the world.

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