Roy J. Glauber

Roy J. Glauber

Roy J. Glauber received a Ph.D. in physics from Harvard University in 1949. He then conducted research at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton, N.J., and at the California Institute of Technology. In 1952 he returned to Harvard. He is the Mallinckrodt Professor of Physics at Harvard University and Adjunct Professor of Optical Sciences at the University of Arizona.

In 2005, Glauber won one-half of the Nobel Prize for Physics for contributions to the field of optics, the branch of physics that deals with the physical properties of light and its interactions with matter.  The other half of the award was shared by John L. Hall and Theodor W. Hänsch.

Glauber’s prizewinning work centered on his development of a theory that advanced the understanding of light by describing the behavior of light particles (light quanta, or photons). Presented in the early 1960s, the theory merged the field of optics with quantum physics (which deals with the behavior of matter on the atomic and subatomic scales), and it formed the basis for the development of a new field, quantum optics. Glauber’s research helped clarify how light had both wave like and particle like characteristics and explained the fundamental differences between the light emitted by hot objects, such as electric light bulbs, and the light emitted by lasers. (Hot sources of light emit incoherent light, which consists of many different frequencies and phases, whereas lasers emit coherent light, light with a uniform frequency and phase.)

Practical applications of Glauber’s work included the development of highly secure codes in the field known as quantum cryptography. His research also had a central role in efforts to develop a new generation of computers, so-called quantum computers, which would be extraordinarily fast and powerful and use quantum-mechanical phenomena to process data as qubits, or quantum bits, of information.

In addition to the 2005 Nobel Prize, Glauber has received many honors for his research, including the Albert A. Michelson Medal (1985) from the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, the Max Born Award (1985) from The Optical Society, the Dannie Heineman Prize (1996) for Mathematical Physics from the American Physical Society, and the 2008 'Medalla de Oro del CSIC' ('CSIC's Gold Medal').

He is a Fellow and Honorary Member of The Optical Society and was elected a Foreign Member of the Royal Society (ForMemRS) in 1997.

OSA Awards Won

Max Born Award