Gerald Meltz


In Memoriam:  Gerald Meltz, 1934-2010

Gerald (Gerry) Meltz, internationally known for his contributions to the field of fiber optic sensing and for his discovery and development of UV written fiber Bragg gratings, passed away June 9, 2010 after a long battle with cancer. He was 75.

In recognition of his contributions, Meltz received the prestigious Optoelectronics Rank Prize in 2002 for the invention of a practical means for making fiber gratings and for developing a wide range of grating-based sensor and telecommunication component applications. He was the founder and managing partner of OFT ASSOCIATES LLC (OFT), an engineering and scientific consulting firm specializing in the modeling, design and analysis of optical fiber waveguides and fiber Bragg grating filters, sensors and other telecommunication devices. OFT provided consulting advice and support to many prominent major corporations, including Corning, United Technologies Corporation, ABB, Halliburton, Deutsch Telekom, General Dynamics Advanced Technology Systems, and JDSU.

From 1976-1996, Gerry was with the United Technologies Research Center where he held the position of Principal Scientist. In this capacity, he conducted and directed research in a variety of topics in optical science and engineering including fundamental studies of optical fiber and thin-film waveguide photosensitivity and the investigation of techniques for quasi-distributed fiber-optic sensing and measurement of strain, pressure, vibration, temperature and chemical detection. As the principal inventor of UV side-written fiber Bragg gratings, he led the team that developed the technology of photo-induced gratings in fibers and thin films. He also invented and developed passive and active grating-based components including narrowband filters, wavelength-selective taps, and fiber laser devices. 

From 1972-1976, Gerry held the position of Staff Scientist in the Advanced Development Laboratory of the Raytheon Company where he analyzed the performance of radar and communication systems.  From 1967 to 1972, he was a Project Leader at the MITRE Corporation where he contributed to the analysis, simulation and design of radar collection systems.  During the years 1962-1967, he was at Sperry Rand Research Center where he conducted fundamental research in plasma physics, acousto-optics and ultrasonics.  Gerry was at Air Force Cambridge Research Laboratories from 1958-1962, first as an officer in the United States Air Force and later as Chief of the Plasma Dynamics Branch.  During 1956-1958, he worked part-time at the Hughes Research Laboratories while pursing graduate studies as a Howard Hughes Fellow.

Gerry obtained his undergraduate education in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mathematics at New York University and completed his graduate studies in Applied Mathematics and Physics, as a Howard Hughes Fellow, at the University of Southern California. He lectured at the California Institute of Technology, University of Southampton (U. K.), Kings College (London) and the University of Lille (France) and was an invited speaker at The Rank Prize Fund Lectures in the U.K., the Gordon Conferences on the Physics of Glass, OSA Optical Fiber Conference, OSA Annual Meeting, OSA Optical Fiber Sensor Conference, and at several SPIE Conferences on Fiber Optics. He co-organized the first OSA Topical Conference on Photosensitivity and Quadratic Nonlinearity in Glass Waveguides and was a guest editor and lead contributor to a special issue of the Journal of Lightwave Technology.

Gerry published more than 25 journal articles and holds 32 patents. His inventions have been licensed to many companies throughout the world and are the basis for several commercial enterprises engaged in the production of gratings for telecommunication components, sensors and fiber lasers.

Gerry was a referee for Optics Letters, Optics Communications, Photonics Technology Letters, Electronics Letters, IEEE/OSA Journal of Lightwave Technology, and Journal of the Optical Society and Applied Physics Letters.  In addition, he assisted the Canadian Government in its review of Government funded fiber optics research and reviewed National Science Foundation grant applications.  He also provided scientific and engineering consulting advice to the Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Department of Defense JASON advisory board.

Gerry was a member of Tau Beta Pi, Pi Tau Sigma, and Sigma Xi.  He received the Pi Tau Sigma Outstanding Junior Mechanical Engineer Award while at New York University.  He also received United Technologies Corporation’s Special Award for Extraordinary Achievement in Product Design (1983), United Technologies Research Center’s Special Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Advancement of Science and Technology (1986) and the award for Outstanding Contributions to the Advancement of Science and Technology (1991).

Gerry is survived by his loving wife Gloria, his daughters Wendy Fossum and Abby Webster, his sons-in-law Carl Fossum and Peter Webster and his four grandchildren.   

This obituary was contributed by Gloria Meltz.