Orlando, Fla. – The Laser Institute of America (LIA) will present U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu with the 2010 Arthur L. Schawlow Award at the 29th International Congress on Applications of Lasers and Electro-Optics (ICALEO) in Anaheim, Calif., which runs from Sept. 26-30.
Chu, co-winner of the 1997 Nobel Prize in Physics for development of methods to cool and trap atoms with laser light, will receive the honor during a luncheon Sept. 29 and speak during the event. Laser pioneer Schawlow nominated Chu for the Nobel while the two were colleagues at Stanford University. Chu will receive a silver medal, a special citation, and a cash prize, and become a fellow and lifetime member of LIA.
Chu, 62, was appointed as energy secretary Dec. 15, 2008, while director of the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Lab and professor of physics and molecular and cell biology at the University of California, Berkeley.
“Steven has blazed new trails as a scientist, teacher, and administrator, and has recently led the Berkeley National Laboratory in pursuit of new alternative and renewable energies,” said President Barack Obama.
Born in St. Louis, Mo., in 1948, he and his family settled in Garden City, N.Y., in 1950. Chu went on to receive his Ph.D. from Berkeley in 1976 and joined Bell Labs in 1978. It was at Bell, in Holmdel, N.J., that he and his coworkers perfected his Nobel-winning technique for cooling atoms with six lasers, creating “optical molasses” where the beams intersected. He went on to Stanford University in 1987, serving as a professor and chair of the physics department before returning to Berkeley to run the national lab in 2004.
LIA first presented the award in 1982 to Schawlow, who won the Nobel Prize in physics in 1981. The honor recognizes individuals who have made distinguished contributions to applications of lasers in science, industry or education.
Laser Institute of America is the professional society for laser applications and safety serving the industrial, educational, medical, research and government communities throughout the world since 1968.