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In memoriam: Erwin Loewen, expert in optical metrology and diffraction gratings

15 June 2016

Erwin Loewen, 95, one of the optical engineering community's most respected experts in diffraction gratings, died 8 June in Rochester, NY.

Loewen, a longtime member of SPIE, was a director at Bausch & Lomb's Grating Lab for more than 25 years and a vice president at Milton Roy where he specialized in holographic techniques in optical metrology and the manufacture of gratings.

His list of scientific publications and awards were extensive, earning him the nickname "Mr. Gratings" by those involved with spectroscopy. His lab was said to look like a "rainbow factory" because of all the diffraction gratings that he used for lasers, spectroscopes, and CDs.

Loewen coauthored with Evgeny Popov in 1997 Diffraction Gratings and Applications, a virtual encyclopedia of the properties, behavior, applications, and manufacture of diffraction gratings. Among his numerous publications with SPIE, five of his papers are bound in the SPIE Milestone Series, Selected Papers on Diffraction Gratings.

In 1991, Loewen was honored with the Rochester Engineer of the Year award and the Technology Award from the Rochester Chamber of Commerce. He also served two terms on an advisory panel for the National Bureau of Standards, now the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Loewen served in the US Army Corps of Engineers during World War II and had a PhD from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. After retirement, he worked as an adjunct professor of optics at University of Rochester and Monroe Community College.

He is survived by his wife Anita Rosenfeld, daughter Heidi Loewen, son Oliver Loewen, and three grandchildren. A date is pending for a memorial service to be held in Rochester.