Rod C. Alferness

Rod C. Alferness joined Bell Laboratories in 1976 after receiving a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Michigan where his thesis research, supervised by Emmett Leith, concerned optical propagation in volume holograms. He pioneered the development of electro-optic devices and circuits for light-wave transmission and switching systems.

His early research at Bell Labs included the demonstration of novel waveguide electro-optic devices and circuits - including switch/modulators, polarization controllers, tunable filters - and their applications in high capacity lightwave transmission and switching systems. This research led to the early development of titanium diffused lithium niobate waveguide modulators that are now deployed as the high-speed signal-encoding engine in fiber optic transmission systems around the world. 

Alferness has also made contributions in photonic integrated circuits in InP, including widely tunable lasers, as well as in photonic switching systems and reconfigurable WDM (wavelength-division-multiplexed) optical networks.  In the mid-1990s, he co-founded the DARPA-funded MONET project which demonstrated the feasibility of wavelength routed optical networks that are now being implemented for both backbone and metro networks.

Currently Alferness is chief scientist, Bell Laboratories, Alcatel-Lucent.  He has held key management positions at Bell Laboratories including Research Senior Vice President and Optical Networking Research Senior Vice President. Alferness has authored over 100 papers and 5 book chapters and holds 35 patents.

An active member of the fiberoptics community, Alferness has served in leadership roles in several societies.  He was IEEE LEOS president and general co-chair of OFC’94 and served on the OSA Board of Directors. He served as Editor-in-Chief of the IEEE and OSA-sponsored Journal of Lightwave Technology and has served as associate editor for Optics Letters and for Photonic Technology Letters.  Alferness currently serves on the European Conference on Optical Communication (ECOC) Executive Management Committee.  

Alferness is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and a fellow of OSA and IEEE LEOS.  Alferness has received the OSA Leadership Award and the IEEE Photonics Award.

For more on Rod Alferness watch his OSA History Interview.

OSA Awards Won

Robert E. Hopkins Leadership Award
Fellow