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Lasers & Sources

Video: Gérard Mourou on the development of chirped pulse amplification

Mourou's invention of CPA made possible the generation of extremely high laser intensities.
24 June 2010, SPIE Newsroom. DOI: 10.1117/2.3201006.06

Gérard Mourou has pioneered the field of ultrafast lasers and their applications in scientific, engineering and medical disciplines. He is an inventor of chirped pulse amplification (CPA), which allowed for amplifying an ultrashort laser pulse to very high optical powers (presently petawatt) with the laser pulse being stretched out temporally and spectrally prior to amplification. CPA opened a new branch of optics called relativistic optics, one of the most active fields of physics today. Mourou also pioneered the field of femtosecond ophthalmology where the femtosecond laser is used to perform precise cuts for myopia correction or corneal transplants.

Mourou is a professor at the École Polytechnique and director of the Institut de la Lumière Extrême at ENSTA. He started the Ultrafast Science Group at ENSTA and the École Polytechnique France in 1974. Three years later, he moved to the University of Rochester, becoming director of the Ultrafast Science Group at the Laboratory for Laser Energetics. He founded the Ultrafast Science Laboratory, which became the National Science Foundation Science and Technology Center for Ultrafast Optical Science in 1991.

He is the recipient of the Harold Edgerton Award from SPIE (1997), the Charles H. Townes Award (2009) from the Optical Society of America, the Sarnoff Award from the IEEE, and the IEEE/LEOS Quantum Electronics Award. Professor Mourou is a member of the National Academy of Engineering. Currently he is a Director of the Laboratoire d'Optique Appliquèe, (Palaiseau, France).