Fifty years ago this month, physicist Theodore Maiman and his colleagues succeeded in making the first laser work at Hughes Research Laboratories in Malibu, Calif., U.S.A.And five years before that, Charles Townes and his team laid the groundwork for that breakthrough when they published their pioneering work in Physical Review about a new type of microwave amplifier called the maser.
Fifty years ago, well-funded corporate labs were great places to do research. They could afford sophisticated equipment; they employed an enviable depth of talent; and they paid better than academia. That made them the ideal environment for developing lasers in the 1960s.by Jeff Hecht
Silicon photonics may revolutionize the 21st century by bringing together two technological areas that transformed the 20th—photonics and microelectronics. Here, the team that pioneered optically and electrically pumped silicon lasers describes their groundbreaking work and where this exciting field is headed.by John Bowers, Di Liang, Alexander Fang, Hyundai Park, Richard Jones and Mario Paniccia
Before the laser, there was the maser, and, before that, an idea: to build a microwave ampliﬁer using ammonia molecules. Jim Gordon takes us back to the early 1950s, when he had to decide whether Charles Townes’s vision for creating a coherent oscillator was promising enough for him to commit to for his Ph.D. project.by James P. Gordon
For almost as long as visible-wavelength lasers have existed, artists have been inspired by their potential to create stunning visual displays.by Patricia Daukantas
Departments and Columns
Through a series of controlled exothermic reactions, fireworks light up the night to mark national holidays and milestone occasions. As we celebrate the big 5-0 for the laser itself, Steve Wilk wonders: Could pyrotechnics also be used to pump lasers?
We all know that May 1960 brought us the first demonstration of the laser … but what else happened that month?
For more than a decade this self-funded company has worked to develop and commercialize diode and fiber lasers while remaining active in the research community.
Room-temperature infrared-emitting lasers grown on silicon could be the first step toward integrating optics for communications, computing and micro-optical devices.
OSA historian John Howard recalls a few treasured moments spent in the company of laser pioneer Charles Townes.
Our conversation with Gérard Mourou, CPA inventor and CLEO 2010 keynote speaker.
Our conversation with Steven Block, optical tweezers pioneer and CLEO 2010 keynote speaker.
New experiments show that an optical clock based on an aluminum ion is the most precise in the world.
Our conversation with David Awschalom, spintronics specialist and QELS 2010 plenary speaker.