Optical Society Honors Harris ’59
The Optical Society (OSA) has elected Stephen Harris ’59 as its newest honorary member, the society’s most distinguished membership status. He was chosen for his “pioneering and profoundly influential contributions to the science of light, including optical parametric emission, lasing without inversion, electromagnetically induced transparency, and single-cycle optical pulse generation.”
Harris is professor of electrical engineering and applied physics emeritus at Stanford University, where he directed the Edward L. Ginzton Laboratory and was chair of the Applied Physics Department. He is known for his work in the fields of lasers, quantum electronics, nonlinear optics, and atomic physics.
“Steve’s groundbreaking research in nonlinear optics set the tone for his career of impressive ‘firsts’,” said OSA President Donna Strickland.
In the late 1980s Harris suggested a technique for making lasers that could operate without requiring a population inversion (now termed LWI), an idea that contradicted the opening paragraphs of all books on lasers. Within several years this led to the first observation of electromagnetically induced transparency (EIT), and its use for nonlinear optics and slow light.
Harris has received numerous prestigious awards and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 1984 he received the Davies Medal for Engineering Achievement from the School of Engineering at Rensselaer. He joins a group of only 45 OSA honorary members elected since the society was founded in 1916.