CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Dec. 18 -- Federico Capasso, a professor of applied physics and a senior research fellow in electrical engineering at Harvard University, has been awarded both the 2004 Arthur L. Schawlow Prize in Laser Science from the American Physical Society (ASP) and the 2004 The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Edison Medal.
The Schawlow prize, endowed by NEC Corp., is being awarded for Capasso's "contributions to the invention and demonstration of the quantum cascade laser and the elucidation of its physics, which bridges quantum electronics, solid-state physics and materials science," the ASP said.
The IEEE's Edison Medal was awarded for Capasso's "career of highly creative and influential contributions to heterostructure devices and materials."
Quantum cascade (QC) lasers were invented and first demonstrated by Capasso and his group at Bell Labs in 1994. The powerful and portable lasers are made by stacking ultrathin atomic layers of semiconductor materials on top of each other. By varying the thickness of the layers, scientists can select the wavelength at which a QC laser will emit light and custom design it for a specific application. Some of the many potential applications of the laser include pollution monitoring, medical diagnostics such as breath analysis, combustion diagnostics, homeland security and law enforcement.
Capasso received a doctor of physics degree from the University of Rome, Italy, in 1973. After doing research in fiber optics at Fondazione Bordoni in Rome, he joined Bell Labs in 1976 and Harvard's Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences in January 2003.
He has been widely honored for his interdisciplinary research in fields such as materials research, solid state physics, electronics and photonics. He belongs to the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
The $10,000 Schachlow Award will be presented at the annual meeting of the Optical Society of America's annual meeting, to be held Oct. 12-14 in Rochester, N.Y. The $10,000 Edison award will be presented at the annual IEEE honors ceremony, June 19 in Kansas City, Mo.
For more information, visit: www.aps.org