Nobel Laureates, Laser Pioneers to Pay Tribute to James P. Gordon at CLEO: 2014


Angela Stark
CLEO: 2014

Nobel Laureates, Laser Pioneers to Pay Tribute to James P. Gordon at CLEO: 2014

Special Symposium will honor the late pioneer of the first maser

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WASHINGTON, March 4, 2014—The Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics (CLEO: 2014) will feature a Special Symposium in Memory of James P. Gordon—a tribute featuring a panel of three Nobel Prize winners and other luminaries in laser science, laser cooling and trapping, optical solitons and Big Bang theory who will reminisce and honor the pioneer of the first maser and one of the founding fathers of quantum electronics.  Gordon, who spent his entire career at AT&T Bell Laboratories from 1955-1996, passed away in June 2013.

Honoring a Pioneer

Organized by CLEO: 2014 Science & Innovations General Co-Chair René-Jean Essiambre and Herwig Kogelnik, both of of Bell Labs - Alcatel-Lucent, as well as Gordon’s wife Susie, the symposium will feature a series of distinguished speakers, many of whom were close collaborators of Gordon. They will recount some of the numerous scientific and technical contributions that he made in his life, including the first demonstration of the maser, work on the “optical maser” (laser), the birth of quantum information theory, the theory of the confocal resonator, fundamentals of laser cooling and trapping, the first solitons in optical fibers and the theory of optical soliton communication systems.

The symposium will also be a unique opportunity to hear personal recollections from colleagues on what it was like to work with Gordon. This includes rarely heard anecdotes related to major discoveries and the singular scientific philosophy of Gordon that has been a source of inspiration for many young researchers.

“Jim Gordon was one of the unsung heroes of the laser and quantum electronics revolution more than 50 years ago,” said Essiambre. “He was known for his affable and humble nature, but made groundbreaking contributions in several fields. He opened new areas of research.  The symposium at CLEO will provide attendees with a rare opportunity to hear exclusive perspectives on working with a scientist as remarkable as Gordon, while recounting a critical time in the history of optics that continues to influence the field today.”

A list of speakers includes:
  • Arthur Ashkin, Bell Labs (retired)
  • Gary D. Boyd, Bell Labs (retired)
  • Steven Chu, Stanford University (formerly Bell Labs) and 1997 Nobel Prize in Physics recipient
  • Linn Mollenauer, Bell Labs (retired)
  • Arno Penzias, New Enterprise Associates (formerly Bell Labs and Columbia University)  and 1978 Nobel Prize in Physics recipient
  • Mark Shtaif, Tel-Aviv University
  • Charles Townes, University of California, Berkeley (formerly Columbia University) and 1964 Nobel Prize in Physics recipient
Decades of Accomplishments in Optics and Photonics

After receiving his Ph.D. in physics from Columbia University in 1955, Gordon worked at AT&T Bell Labs until his retirement in 1996. Starting in 1954 as a student and throughout his career, Gordon made numerous high-impact, seminal contributions to optics and quantum electronics that provided fundamental insights and the underpinning foundation for many important subjects in the field. In one of his most outstanding achievements, as a student of Charles Townes at Columbia University, he analyzed, designed, built and demonstrated the successful operation of the first maser in 1954 with Townes and Herbert Zeiger.

Along with Gary Boyd, Gordon conceived and provided the theory of the confocal resonator that is critical to the design and operation of lasers. He also made several contributions to quantum and optical communications, quantum electronics and the theoretical basis for optical tweezers.

Gordon’s contributions were recognized through many honors and awards, including The Optical Society’s (OSA) Charles Hard Townes (1981) and Max Born Awards (1991), the Physics of Quantum Electronics Conference’s Willis E. Lamb Award (2001) and OSA's Frederic Ives Medal (2002), among others. He was a member of both the U.S. National Academy of Engineering and the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, as well as a senior member of IEEE and a Fellow of OSA and the American Physical Society. He was named an OSA Honorary Member in 2010.
The Special Symposium in Memory of James P. Gordon will take place Monday, June 9 from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. at CLEO: 2014 in San Jose, Calif., USA.

About CLEO

With a distinguished history as the industry's leading event on laser science, the Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics (CLEO) is the premier international forum for scientific and technical optics, uniting the fields of lasers and opto-electronics by bringing together all aspects of laser technology, from basic research to industry applications. CLEO: Expo showcases the latest products and applications from more than 300 participating companies from around the world, providing hands-on demonstrations of the latest market innovations and applications. The Expo also offers valuable on-floor programming, including Market Focus and the Technology Transfer program.

Sponsored by the American Physical Society's (APS) Laser Science Division, IEEE Photonics Society and The Optical Society (OSA), CLEO provides the full range of critical developments in the field, showcasing the most significant milestones from laboratory to marketplace. With an unparalleled breadth and depth of coverage, CLEO connects all of the critical vertical markets in lasers and electro-optics. For more information, visit CLEO: 2014 takes place June 8 - 13 at the San Jose Convention Center.