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SPIE to celebrate lasers with Royal Academy of Engineering and Ecole Polytechnique

16 June 2010

BELLINGHAM, Washington, USA -- Laser anniversary celebrations this week and next at the Royal Academy of Engineering in London and at the Palais du Louvre in Paris and École Polytechnique in Palaiseau will be highlighted by appearances of many of the field's luminaries. SPIE is an Associated Member with next week's 50 Years of the Laser in the City of Light and a contributor to tomorrow's event at the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Charles Townes, who with Nicolai Basov and Alexander Prokhorov shared the first Nobel Prize given for laser research, will be a featured speaker at both,Laser tribute display: Colin Webb, David Payne, Theodore Maiman, Charles Townes, and Arthurs Schawlow events. Townes is Professor Emeritus at the Univ. of California, Berkeley, an SPIE Fellow, and 2010 winner of the SPIE Gold Medal of the Society.

Laser experts speaking at the Royal Academy of Engineering celebration on 17 June will include Anthony Siegman (Stanford Univ.), Colin Webb (Univ. of Oxford), Wilson Sibbett (Univ. of St. Andrews), and David Payne (Univ. of Southampton). A special session will honor Sir Charles Kao, recipient of the 2009 Nobel Prize in physics for work in fiber optics and lasers that helped enable the internet. Kao is a recipient of the SPIE Gold Medal of the Society.

Townes, Sibbett, and Kao will be among another program of distinguished plenary presenters participating in 50 Years of the Laser in the City of Light on 22 June at the Louvre and 23 June at the Polytechnique. Pres. Nicolas Sarkozy is expected to participate as well.

Other laser luminaries on the program are Nobel Laureates 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), and other speakers, such as:

  • SPIE Fellow Juris Upatnieks, co-inventor of 3D holography
  • Catherine Césarsky (Haut Commissaire à l'Energie Atomique) and Ferenc Krausz (Max Planck Institute), participants in SPIE Optics + Photonics 2010 in San Diego 1-5 August
  • Alain Aspect (Institut d'Optique) and Serge Haroche (Lab Kastel Brossel), participants in SPIE Photonics Europe 2010 in Brussels last April
  • Sigrid Avrillier (Univ. de Paris Nord), frequent participant at SPIE/OSA Europeaen Conferences on Biomedical Optics and other SPIE events and publications
  • Erich Spitz (Thales), participant at SPIE conferences including SPIE Photonics West
  • Kathleen Maiman (Simon Fraser Univ.), wife of Theodore Maiman, who invented the first working laser on 16 May 1960.

SPIE President-Elect Katarina Svanberg (Lund Univ. Hospital) and CEO Eugene Arthurs will represent the Society at the events. Photo displays developed by SPIE to honor laser luminaries and illustrate the timeline of laser development will be exhibited at both events. 

Photo caption: From left, Colin Webb, David Payne, Theodore Maiman, Charles Townes, and Arthurs Schawlow are among those featured in laser luminary photo tribute displays being shown at events including those in London and Paris. Displayed here with the photos is1962-63 vintage HeNe laser running at 1.15 micron in the infrared. It is the second working laser in the UK (by just 5 days), and was built by Ed Ballik. (On loan from Clarendon Laboratory, Oxford Univ.)

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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