Feature Articles

Introduction: The Laser 1960-2010

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.

Lasers and the Glory Days of Industrial Research

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
Hybrid Silicon Lasers: The Final Frontier to Integrated Computing

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
Reflections on the First Maser

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
A Short History of Laser Light Shows

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

Light Touch
Pyrotechnic Lasers

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?

The Laser’s First Light: Trends and Highlights from May 1960

We all know that May 1960 brought us the first demonstration of the laser … but what else happened that month?

Optics Innovations
Toptica Photonics: Helping Lasers Leave the Laboratory

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.

The Beginning of Truly Integrated Lasers?

Room-temperature infrared-emitting lasers grown on silicon could be the first step toward integrating optics for communications, computing and micro-optical devices.

The History of OSA
Close Encounters of the Townes Kind

OSA historian John Howard recalls a few treasured moments spent in the company of laser pioneer Charles Townes.

Conversations in Optics
OPN Talks with Gérard Mourou

Our conversation with Gérard Mourou, CPA inventor and CLEO 2010 keynote speaker.

After Image
OPN Talks with Steven Block

Our conversation with Steven Block, optical tweezers pioneer and CLEO 2010 keynote speaker.

A Fine Time Was Had by Al+

New experiments show that an optical clock based on an aluminum ion is the most precise in the world.

After Image
OPN Talks with David Awschalom

Our conversation with David Awschalom, spintronics specialist and QELS 2010 plenary speaker.

Did You Know?

Laser ablation to preserve great art.


Also in this Issue


OSA Today
OSA Today

President's Message
President’s Message

Book Reviews
Book Reviews