5 May: Remembering Arthur Leonard Schawlow on Birthday

OV Digital Desk
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Arthur Leonard Schawlow

Arthur Leonard Schawlow (5 May 1921 – 28 April 1999) was an American physicist. He made significant contributions to the field of laser physics and was a co-inventor of the laser along with Charles Townes.

Life and Career

He was born on 5 May 1921, in Mount Vernon, New York, United States. He completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Toronto and obtained his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Toronto in 1949. After completing his Ph.D., he worked at Columbia University, the University of California, and Bell Labs before joining the faculty of Stanford University in 1961.

During his career, Schawlow made numerous contributions to the field of laser physics, including the development of the first tunable laser, the study of laser spectroscopy, and the development of new methods for measuring atomic and molecular properties. He also played an important role in the development of the field of nonlinear optics, which studies the interaction of light with matter.

In addition to his research on lasers, Schawlow also studied the behavior of atoms and molecules in magnetic fields. He made important contributions to the field of nuclear magnetic resonance, which is used in medical imaging and chemical analysis.

He was a prolific author, publishing over 200 scientific papers during his career. He also wrote a popular science book called “Laser Light: Scattering and Spectroscopy,” which introduced the concepts of laser physics to a wider audience.

Overall, Schawlow’s work had a significant impact on the field of laser physics and helped to pave the way for many advances in laser technology. His legacy continues to inspire and influence scientists and researchers in the field of optics and photonics.

He died on 28 April 1999, in Palo Alto, California.

Award and Legacy

He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1981, along with Nicolaas Bloembergen and Kai Siegbahn, for their work in laser spectroscopy.

In addition to the Nobel Prize, Schawlow received numerous awards and honors during his lifetime, including the National Medal of Science in 1981, the Franklin Medal in Physics in 1987, and the Wolf Prize in Physics in 1991.

He was a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and he served as the president of the American Physical Society from 1979 to 1980.

His legacy continues to live on through his contributions to the field of laser physics and the impact he had on the scientific community. His work paved the way for many advances in laser technology, including the development of lasers used in medicine, telecommunications, and manufacturing. He also inspired and mentored many students and researchers who have continued to advance the field of laser physics in the decades since his death.

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