The 2013 Gold Medal of SPIE, the society's highest honor, was presented to Federico Capasso, Robert L. Wallace Professor of Applied Physics at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
Co-inventor of the quantum cascade laser (QCL) and known as the father of bandgap engineering, Capasso has permanently changed the way light can be manipulated and controlled, opening up a host of new applications. Currently, he is working in plasmonics and so-called flat optics, which he explains in the video clip.
In 1994, Capasso and a team of researchers demonstrated the first QCL at Bell Labs. This fundamentally new light source featured an emission wavelength that could be designed to cover the mid- to far-infrared spectrum by tailoring the active region layer thickness. The QCL represented a radical departure from conventional solid-state lasers and made many IR diode lasers obsolete.
Nearly 300 people were on hand for the presentation at the 58th annual SPIE Awards and Recognition Banquet, held on 28 August in San Diego, with SPIE President William Arnold presiding over the festivities.