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OSA Names Newest Honorary Member
Nov 2010
WASHINGTON, Nov. 16, 2010 — The Optical Society of America (OSA) board of directors announced recently the election of James P. Gordon as its newest honorary member of the society.

Gordon was chosen for his high-impact, seminal contributions to quantum electronics and photonics, including the first demonstration of the maser (microwave amplification by stimulated emission of radiation), the precursor to the laser. He is a technical consultant at Alcatel Lucent Bell Labs, where he has worked for more than 50 years.

“Jim Gordon’s career has spanned several decades and numerous disciplines, in many cases laying the foundation for whole new fields of physics, including quantum electronics and lasers,” said James C. Wyant, OSA president. “His work has led to countless application areas, especially optical communications-the backbone of high-speed Internet today.”

While a student of Charles Townes at Columbia University, Gordon analyzed, designed, built and demonstrated the successful operation of the first maser in 1954 with Townes and Herbert Zeiger. He then, with Gary Boyd, conceived and provided the theory of confocal resonators, fundamental for the modern analysis of Gaussian laser beams and optical cavities that are critical to the design and operation of lasers.

He pioneered the quantum theory of the information capacity of an optical communications channel providing a seminal breakthrough in the fundamental understanding of the limiting capacity of optical communications.

He has also provided early key insight into the fundamental limits of coherent optical transmission systems, which have recently become prominent for high capacity commercial optical systems.

“Jim is a true luminary in the field of optics and photonics, and it is fitting to honor him in the year in which the science community is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first working laser,” Wyant said.

Honorary membership at OSA is given to those who have made unique, seminal contributions to the field of optics. Honorary member numbers cannot exceed two-thousands of the total OSA membership. To be elected requires a unanimous vote of the board of directors, based on the recommendation of the presidential advisory committee and the awards committee of the board.

OSA brings together the global optics community through its programs and initiatives. It works to advance the common interests of the field, providing educational resources to the scientists, engineers and business leaders who work in the field by promoting the science of light and the advanced technologies made possible by optics and photonics.

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An acronym for microwave amplification by stimulated emission of radiation. Predecessor to the laser, the maser or 'microwave laser' was the first device to produce coherent electromagnetic waves, and was done at microwave frequencies through amplification by stimulated emission. A laser (light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation) is a maser that works over a broader range of higher frequency photons in the ultraviolet and visible portion of the electromagnetic spectrum.
Pertaining to optics and the phenomena of light.
The technology of generating and harnessing light and other forms of radiant energy whose quantum unit is the photon. The science includes light emission, transmission, deflection, amplification and detection by optical components and instruments, lasers and other light sources, fiber optics, electro-optical instrumentation, related hardware and electronics, and sophisticated systems. The range of applications of photonics extends from energy generation to detection to communications and...
Alcatel Lucent Bell LabsAmericasboard of directorsBusinessCharles Townescoherent optical transmission systemsColumbia UniversityCommunicationsconfocal resonatorsGary BoydGaussian laser beamsHerbert Zeigerhonorary memberJames C. WyantJames P. GordonmaseropticalOptical Society of AmericaopticsOSAOSA membershipphotonicspresidential advisory committeequantum electronicsquantum theoryscience of lightthe awards committeelasers

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