SPIE Awards

Top optics and photonics experts win the 2012 SPIE Technology Achievement, SPIE Educator Award, SPIE Early Career Achievement Award, and other annual honors.
29 June 2012
Harold E. Edgerton Award recipient: Luke LesterLuke Lester

Luke Lester, who leads an optoelectronics research group at University of New Mexico (USA), is the 2012 recipient of the Harold E. Edgerton Award in recognition of pioneering contributions to the development, characterization, and integration of quantum-dot, mode-locked lasers as high-speed optical sources.

In 1988, Lester fabricated the world’s fastest transistor, a record that stood for over a decade. Today, this device is found in many cell phone receivers.

“Luke is a true pioneer,” says Pallab Bhattacharya, professor at University of Michigan (USA). “Luke is credited with demonstrating the lowest threshold current (nearly zero!) in a QD laser and he went on to demonstrate extremely low chirp and linewidth enhancement factor in these lasers.”

Wei ChenSPIE Educator Award recipient: Wei R. Chen

SPIE Fellow Wei R. Chen, professor of biomedical engineering and founder of Oklahoma’s first biomedical engineering program for undergraduates at University of Central Oklahoma (USA), is the 2012 SPIE Educator Award recipient. He was cited for inspiring life-long learning; encouraging students to contribute to society; and promoting interdisciplinary learning in biomedical optics through research in laser applications for cancer treatment.

In Chen’s classroom and lab, students discover how their learning and research affects the lives of cancer patients. “I challenge my students to save or change at least one person’s life for the better in their career,” Chen says.

Dennis Gabor Award recipient: Yeshaiahu FainmanYeshaiahu Fainman

SPIE Fellow Yeshaiahu Fainman, professor of electrical and computer engineering at University of California, San Diego (USA), is the 2012 recipient of the Dennis Gabor Award in recognition of his novel applications of ultrafast pulses and nanophotonics in information processing systems.

Fainman has been directing research at the Ultrafast and Nanoscale Optics group at UCSD since 1990. He has made pioneering contributions to utilizing near-field optical phenomena in inhomogeneous and metamaterials, nanophotonics and plasmonics, nonlinear optics of femtosecond pulses, and non-conventional imaging.

Achievements include his pioneering of a holographic recording with femtosecond pulses of the plasmonic waves propagating in a nanostructured metal film and his work on optofluidics, where he combines optics and fluidics for tenability and novel functionality.

George W. Goddard Award recipient: William J. BoruckiWilliam J. Borucki

William J. Borucki, principal investigator of the Kepler mission at the NASA Ames Research Center (USA), is receiving the 2012 George W. Goddard Award in honor of 25 years of design and development of high-precision transit photometry techniques that enabled the mission to revolutionize knowledge about the frequency and distribution of extrasolar terrestrial planets.

“Bill Borucki’s career can be summarized in one word,” says Charles Alcock of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (USA), “Kepler.”

Borucki led the long effort to propose, design, and construct the Kepler space observatory, launched in 2009 and recently extended through fiscal year 2016.

G.G. Stokes Award recipient: Jan Olof Stenflo

Jan Olof StenfloJan Olof Stenflo, emeritus professor at ETH Zurich, Institute of Astronomy (Switzerland), is the 2012 recipient of the G.G. Stokes Award in recognition of his wide-ranging and fundamental work on the measurement and theory of polarized radiation. This work has revolutionized our understanding of the sun’s magnetic field, the quantity underlying all solar activity.

Dominating the field of polarized radiation from the sun for four decades, Stenflo’s broad research has covered the production, computation, analysis, interpretation, and measurement of polarized sunlight.

“Without his contributions, our empirical knowledge of solar magnetic fields would be primitive and the polarimeters and diagnostic tools we use today for their exploration would not be as advanced,” says Javier Trujillo, professor at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (Spain).

Australian center wins Technology Achievement Award

CSIRO logo
The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) of the Australian Centre for Precision Optics (ACPO) is the 2012 recipient of the SPIE Technology Achievement Award.

The award recognizes the CSIRO ACPO team’s world-leading expertise in optical fabrication, metrology, and coating as well as its contributions to science and technology in many international projects for more than 30 years.

The team’s achievements include:

  • Production and characterization of near-flawless silicon spheres for the international consortium measuring Avogadro’s number
  • Optics for the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory in the United States
  • Unique retro-reflectors for NASA’s proposed SIM Lite Astrometric Observatory, formerly called the Space Interferometry Mission
  • Development of phase-shifting interferometry
  • Solid Fabry-Perot tunable filters for solar astronomy
  • Ellipsometers for characterization of thin films

“The CSIRO ACPO team does superb fabrication of high-precision optics,” says SPIE Fellow James C. Wyant, a past SPIE and OSA president and former dean of the College of Optical Sciences at the University of Arizona (USA). “Not only are they superb optical craftsmen, but they are superb scientists.

“People often think that optical fabrication is more an art than a science,” he adds, “but the work the CSIRO ACPO team does is both art and science at its best.”

Through its precision optics expertise, ACPO has created strong scientific linkages with many organizations and institutes around the world. The 18 team members have been strong supporters of SPIE and have served on various program committees for SPIE conferences such as Interferometry Techniques and Analysis and Optical Manufacturing and Testing.

“CSIRO has always pushed the technologies necessary for optics manufacturing beyond the known limits, much to the advantage of all customers who needed optics that were not available elsewhere,” says Andreas Kuhnert of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at California Institute of Technology (USA).

“In addition, CSIRO has developed in-house metrology techniques that are unique when it comes to measuring optical surface quality. From a customer standpoint, this is a very important aspect of working with an optics manufacturer.” ?

Updated classic on lens design wins Goodman book awardR. Barry Johnson

SPIE Fellow and past SPIE President R. Barry Johnson is the recipient of the 2012 Joseph Goodman Book Writing Award for Lens Design Fundamentals, Second Edition, a revised and expanded update to the late Rudolf Kingslake’s classic first edition.

The SPIE/OSA Goodman Book Writing Award is a biennial award funded by a personal gift from Joseph W. and Hon Mai Goodman. It recognizes a recent and outstanding book in the field of optics and photonics that has contributed significantly to research, teaching, or industry.

The award will be presented to Johnson at SPIE Optics + Photonics in August.

In the new edition of Lens Design Fundamentals, Johnson extends the principles laid out by Kingslake — a mentor of Johnson — in the original 1978 edition by modernizing the examples and updating the material. He expanded the content by 50% and increased the number of figures from 200 to 300.

Changes also include a new overview chapter on aberrations, a completely rewritten chapter on automatic lens design, and expansion of the chapter on mirrors and catadioptric systems to include a variety of newer systems.

Johnson is co-founder of the Center for Applied Optics at the University of Alabama (USA), physics research professor at Alabama A&M University, and president of Optical E.T.C.

The award selection committee cited the book as holding a unique place in optics literature and noted that it will serve as an indispensable resource for the next generation of lens designers. Published in 2010 by Academic Press and co-published by SPIE Press, Lens Design Fundamentals, Second Edition, sold more than 1200 hardcover copies in the first year. It is now in its second printing and is also available as an e-book.

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Chandra Vikram Award goes to Hans TizianiHans Tiziani

SPIE Fellow Hans Tiziani, professor emeritus at Universität Stuttgart (Germany), is the 2012 recipient of the Chandra S. Vikram Award in Optical Metrology in recognition of his achievements in optical metrology and testing. The award honors Tiziani’s pioneering work in high-precision microscopic surface and 3D measurement and multisensor techniques; deformation- and vibration analysis using double-pulse techniques in digital holography; and advances in heterodyne temporal speckle-pattern interferometry.

Tiziani’s research advances and publications have gone unabated throughout a 40-year career and his path-breaking work in speckle metrology “paralleled and complemented many of Vikram’s own interests and accomplishments,” says Charles M. Vest, president of the National Academy of Engineering (USA) and the recipient of the first Vikram award in 2009.

Tiziani, a Swiss citizen, donated the $2,000 US honorarium to SPIE for its fund for student travel grants. These funds were awarded to two SPIE Student Chapter leaders attending SPIE Photonics Europe in April.


SPIE Early Career Achievement Award

Andrea AlùAndrea Alù, University of Texas at Austin assistant professor (USA) and SPIE Senior Member, has received the 2012 SPIE Early Career Achievement Award in recognition of his pioneering contributions to optical metamaterials and plasmonic phenomena.

Alù has introduced groundbreaking concepts to the optics community, including a method of “cloaking” scattering objects using plasmonic coatings. He has published several papers since 2005 on near-zero-index metamaterials, manipulation of the scattering/absorption cross-sections of plasmonic antennas, three-dimensional cloaking, and metamaterials homogenization.

Alù, who received his PhD in electrical engineering from the University of Roma Tre (Italy) in 2007, has received numerous international awards for young scientists.

He received the SPIE Early Career Achievement Award at SPIE Photonics Europe in Brussels in April.

Frits Zernike Award for MicrolithographyJohn H. Bruning

SPIE Fellow John H. Bruning, retired president and CEO of Corning Tropel Corp. (USA), is the 2012 recipient of the Frits Zernike Award for Microlithography. The award recognizes his vision and leadership in the production of metrology instrumentation for the microelectronics, automotive, and optics industries as well as his work in deep-UV excimer projection lithography, phase-measuring interferometry, and die-to-die mask inspection.

“John is well known as the co-inventor of the phase-shift interferometer, which revolutionized precision interferometry measurements,” says Henry Smith, a professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (USA). The invention improved the resolution by which the figure or contour of a lens could be measured by a factor of about 100, Smith adds.

Bruning has a PhD in electrical engineering from University of Illinois. The SPIE award is sponsored by ASML and Cymer.

Arthur Guenther Congressional Fellow selected

SPIE member Chris B. SchafferChris B. Schaffer, associate professor of biomedical engineering at Cornell University (USA), will be the SPIE/OSA Arthur H. Guenther Congressional Science and Engineering Fellow for 2012-2013.

Schaffer will work in the office of a U.S. senator or representative or with a Congressional Committee to gain first-hand knowledge of congressional operations, contribute to the policy-making process, and forge links between the engineering, scientific, and public policy communities.

Schaffer’s research focuses on the use of optical tools for observation and manipulation of in vivo biological systems.

He received his PhD in physics from Harvard University (USA) where he worked with Eric Mazur on the interaction of short laser pulses with materials and developed techniques for fine-scale ablation in solids and biological specimens.

Nominate a colleague for SPIE awards

SPIE presents several annual awards that recognize individual and team technical accomplishments in optics and photonics and service to the Society.

Nominations may be made through 1 October and remain active for three years from the submission date. Exceptions are the Early Career Achievement Award and the SPIE/OSA Joseph W. Goodman Book Writing Award.

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