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In Memoriam: C. John Buccini, Pioneer of Laser Interferometry

08 August 2017

Former SPIE Member C. John Buccini, a key member of the three-person team that produced the Laser Unequal Path Interferometer (LUPI), died 16 May 2017 in Wilmington, North Carolina. He was 92 years old. A man of great creative talent, John became a national and world recognized mechanical and optical designer and created a number of state-of-the-art inventions for several industries including manufacturing, the space program, defense weapons development, and advanced nuclear fusion.

John was born in Providence, Rhode Island in 1924. A veteran of WWII, he was drafted into the army as a medic and was amongst the group that went into the Buchanwald concentration camp to liberate the sick and wounded at the end of the war. He received his physics degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1952. He began his career at Olin Mathieson's nuclear fuel division, and later moved to Perkin Elmer, where he used his unique talents to design a periscope simulator for submarines.

A master engineer, he contributed significantly and uniquely to the field of optomechanics during his 65-year career. At Itek Corporation in Lexington, MA, in 1964, SPIE Fellow and Past President Joe Houston invented the first LUPI, which revolutionized optical testing, and selected John as the lead optomechanical engineer and Pat O’Neill as the lead lens designer to productize his initial designs.

In 1983, John formed Buccini Instrument Co. and produced the MIC-1 Laser Interferometer, a miniaturized version of the first LUPIs. The MIC-1 is the most compact and cost-effective of shop-proven and fielded LUPIs and has become the gold standard for quantitative optical evaluation of components and systems.

John is predeceased by his wife, Mary. He is survived by his daughter Susan Buccini and her husband Randy Olson; and his sisters Dora D'Amario, Elena Torresi and Elvira Pazienza.

Thank you to Susan Buccini and Joe Houston for contributing to this article.