Sarath Deshapriya Gunapala Wins 2018 SPIE George W. Goddard Award

The researcher and leader in the field of infrared detectors was recognized during the Annual Awards Banquet at SPIE Optics + Photonics in San Diego

23 August 2018

Sarath Gunapala wins SPIE 2018 George Goddard Award

SPIE President Maryellen Giger presents Sarath Deshapriya Gunapala with the 2018 George W. Goddard Award

BELLINGHAM, Washington, USA and CARDIFF, UK - Sarath Deshapriya Gunapala, director of the Center for Infrared Sensors at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), was honored with the 2018 SPIE George W. Goddard Award at a ceremony during SPIE Optics + Photonics yesterday evening. Gunapala is being recognized for his achievements in the development of quantum structures based on infrared (IR) detector and focal-plane-array (FPA) technologies for aerospace applications.

Gunapala is known worldwide as a researcher and leader in the field of infrared detectors and FPA technology. In his early years of research, Gunapala worked on opto-electronic devices at Bell Communication Research and AT&T Bell Laboratories. At Bell Labs, he worked in the Quantum Devices Group, which developed the quantum-well infrared photodetector (QWIP) and quantum cascade laser (QCL). His research in infrared imaging has been critical in successfully enhancing night vision technology, medical diagnostics, service and maintenance applications, as well as Earth and planetary science remote-sensing applications.

In 2001, Gunapala was inducted into the US Space Foundation Technology Hall of Fame. Other awards include the NASA Exceptional Engineering Achievement Award (1996) and JPL's Magellan Award (2011). In 2014, NASA awarded Gunapala the Outstanding Leader Medal for his revolutionary work in IR detector technology for space applications.

"Sarath Gunapala has been a leading global proponent and driver of the effort to develop the technology for quantum-well- and quantum-dot-based photodetector arrays for infrared imaging cameras," said SPIE Fellow Marija Strojnik-Scholl, a professor at the Center for Research in Optics and recipient of the 1996 SPIE George W. Goddard Award. "The range of utility of the infrared technology that Gunapala has developed during more than 25 years of his career is very broad."

Strojnik-Scholl notes that since this technology has matured and its viability has been demonstrated, it is now finding applications in commercial, scientific, and military arenas. Gunapala and his group at JPL performed most of the preliminary viability demonstrations. "This is a credit to his tenacity, vision, and hard work," she said.

SPIE presents the George W. Goddard Award annually in recognition of exceptional achievement in optical or photonic technology or instrumentation for aerospace, atmospheric science, or astronomy.

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