Optics researchers receive 2004 Lawrence Awards

Two of the seven winners of the 2004 E.O. Lawrence Award named by U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham in September were recognized for ­contributions in the field of optics.

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Two of the seven winners of the 2004 E.O. Lawrence Award named by U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham in September were recognized for ­contributions in the field of optics. Claire Max is co-inventor of the sodium-laser guide star and deputy director of the Center for Adaptive Optics at the University of California, Santa Cruz; she is shown next to the Shane Telescope at Lick Observatory on Mt. Hamilton (near San Jose). In the background, the bright straight line at the top of the photo is the laser beam from the laser guide-star system Max designed as part of the telescope’s adaptive-optics system.

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Max also joined the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL; Livermore, CA) in 1974 as part of a new group formed to understand the plasma-physics aspects of laser fusion. She made important contributions to laser-plasma interactions and to the understanding of astrophysical plasmas. In 1984, she became the founding director of the Livermore branch of UC’s Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics, and in this role she helped guide much of Livermore’s astrophysical and geophysical research.

The other optics awardee, Richard Saykally, invented velocity-modulation spectroscopy of ions and laser-ablation slit-jet expansion-absorption spectroscopy. Saykally is a University of California at Berkeley Distinguished Teacher and currently holds the Class of 1932 Distinguished Chair in UC Berkeley’s Department of Chemistry; his research interests are numerous (see Laser Focus World, May 2001, p. 159, and January 2002, p.15). Using velocity modulation, Saykally has produced a large portion of the experimental information that we currently have on the structure of molecular ions. Using laser-ablation slit-jet expansion-absorption spectroscopy, he has observed the vibrational spectra of linear carbon (C) clusters from C3 to C13, determining their structures and providing insight into the peculiar variation of their properties depending upon whether the cluster contains an even or an odd number of carbon atoms. He has also been successful in making difficult spectral observations and analyses to gain insight into the binding forces in liquid water.

The Lawrence Award was established in 1959 to honor the memory of the late Ernest Orlando Lawrence, who invented the cyclotron and after whom two Energy Department laboratories in Berkeley and Livermore, CA, are named. The Lawrence Awards are to be presented at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 8. Each winner will receive a gold medal, a citation, and $50,000.

Hassaun A. Jones-Bey

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