Laser community mourns loss of Elias Snitzer

May 25, 2012
Bellingham, WA--Laser pioneer Elias Snitzer, 87, inventor of the glass laser, fiber laser, and fiber amplifier, passed away on May 21 after a sudden illness.
Elias Snitzer, inventor of the glass laser, fiber laser, and fiber amplifier
Elias Snitzer, inventor of the glass laser, fiber laser, and fiber amplifier

Bellingham, WA--Laser pioneer Elias Snitzer, 87, inventor of the glass laser, fiber laser, and fiber amplifier, passed away on May 21 after a sudden illness.

Snitzer's contributions to photonics research over the past 40 years helped pave the way for the development of the fiber-optics technology on which the Internet and other communications systems operate. His contributions also found applications in medical imaging technology as well.

While director of research at American Optical in the 1960s and 1970s, Snitzer published on the operation of the first Nd:glass laser soon after the ruby laser was announced, recalls SPIE Fellow and past president Anthony DeMaria. This announcement was followed by the first flash-lamp-pumped fiber laser, and an analysis of the optical modes in a multimode glass fiber.

Then, Snitzer joined DeMaria's research group at United Technologies Research Center to head the photonics laboratories, says DeMaria. Snitzer initiated the fiber-optics sensor research program there, bringing the idea of interfering two Ar ion laser beams to form fringes on a glass fiber, thereby imprinting phase gratings in the fiber to form optical filters and wavelength sensitive mirrors, DeMaria explains.

Snitzer was among laser luminaries honored in the SPIE Advancing the Laser tribute display shown around the world in 2010 as part of the 50th anniversary of the demonstration of the first laser. He published several papers with SPIE and served as conference chair and proceedings editor.

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