The Most Important Paper You’ve Never Read

Rick Trebino

A half-century ago, a seminal but largely forgotten study identified the “coherent artifact” in measurements of ultrashort laser pulses.

figureThe first page of the long-forgotten study 'On the phase characteristics and compression of picosecond pulses.'

Editor’s note: Just over 50 years ago, in November 1969, a paper in Applied Physics Letters by Robert A. Fisher and Joseph A. Fleck Jr. identified a problem in the measurements of the sub-nanosecond laser pulses that were starting to come on the scene. In this essay, to mark the golden anniversary of that paper’s publication, OSA Fellow Rick Trebino of the Georgia Institute of Technology, USA, offers a personal recollection of his encounter with this seminal paper—and its lead author.

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