Taking the prize

One half of the 2005 Nobel Prize in Physics cited two scientists “for their contributions to the development of laser-based precision spectroscopy, including the optical frequency comb technique.

One half of the 2005 Nobel Prize in Physics cited two scientists “for their contributions to the development of laser-based precision spectroscopy, including the optical frequency comb technique.” John L. Hall from the University of Colorado and National Institute of Standards and Technology in Boulder, CO, together with Theodor W. Hänsch of the Max-Planck-Institut für Quantenoptik and Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich, Germany, were recognized for work that enables measurement of optical frequencies with unprecedented accuracy. Underlying these measurements was a stabilized ultrafast Ti:sapphire laser (see cover and p. 65). Hall and Hänsch have opened up new possibilities for probing fundamental physics, but their research also has real practical implications, paving the way, for instance, for more precise global positioning systems and improved synchronization of very large astronomical telescopes.

Ti:sapphire lasers were introduced commercially about 18 years ago and quickly became an important research tool in many fields. They have subsequently undergone significant development, especially in terms of making them more compact and easier to operate. The advent of diode-pumped pump sources accelerated the trend and today’s ultrafast Ti:sapphire lasers are compact, turnkey systems that are much easier to use (see p. 91).

The other half of the 2005 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to Roy J. Glauber of Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, “for his contribution to the quantum theory of optical coherence.” Among other things, the quantum approach to optics has been applied to create the type of secure communications systems discussed in this month’s “Optoelectronics Applications” feature (see p. 109).

And while on the subject of prizes, the 2006 PhAST/Laser Focus World Innovation Award will be presented during the plenary session at the upcoming Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics (CLEO) in Long Beach, CA. First place will be awarded to a broadly tunable mid-IR quantum cascade laser developed and commercialized by Daylight Solutions (Poway, CA; see www.laserfocusworld/articles/252457).

Stephen G. Anderson

Associate Publisher/Editor in Chief

stevega@pennwell.com

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