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Explore OSA 100
OSA celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2016, marking a century of innovation. As part of that celebration, we created a Centennial Exhibit that highlights 100 iconic images representing OSA and the world of optics and photonics.
Discoveries & Inventions
A strontium-ion optical clock, National Physical Laboratory, UK.
The development of Bose-Einstein condensation in rubidium atoms.
Richard Perkin founded Perkin-Elmer in 1937, which manufactures optical components and systems.
OSA’s extensive network of Student Chapters reaches around the globe.
The Hubble Space Telescope as seen from Space Shuttle Discovery.
The OSA Foundation, launched in 2002, supports a range of activities promoting the field of optics and photonics and recognizing student excellence.
The first American to win a Nobel Prize for scientific research, A.A. Michelson developed precision optical instruments.
Arthur Schawlow’s toy gun contains a laser tuned to pass through a transparent surface.
2015 was the International Year of Light.
International Year of Light (IYL)
Laser surgery is precise and can limit bleeding, pain, swelling and scarring.
OSA Publishing/Infobase is the largest peer-reviewed collection of optics and photonics information in the world.
An array of flat panel displays.
Murray Ramsay demonstrates fiber-optic video communications to Queen Elizabeth II
Fiber Optics Demonstration
Color is defined using hue, saturation and brightness.
“Earthrise” taken from Apollo 8 in 1968.
Imagery in Space
Imaging technologies now offer unprecedented views of brain activity.
Albert Einstein’s research was integral to laser development.
Understanding optics of the eye, from vision technologies to color to coding and detection
Used in communications systems to improve transmission speeds, ultrafast photonics is improving imaging of ultrafast biological and chemical processes.
Starting in the 1940s, innovative optical designs and technologies have advanced our ability to survey the Earth remotely.
One of OSA’s first honorary members, George Ellery Hale was a pioneering astronomer.
George Ellery Hale
Nonlinear optics refers to the unconventional behavior of light when it interacts with matter.
Light emitting diodes (LEDs) generate sharp, focused light.
Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs)
OSA Awards recognize outstanding achievement in optics and photonics.
Cell phones rely heavily on optical technology.
Lasers deliver a tightly focused light beam enabling multiple applications.
Mildred Dresselhaus was among the first to use lasers for magneto-optics experiments
OSA is home to 34 Nobel Prize winners.
Nobel Prize Winners
Together George Eastman and Thomas Edison made movies possible.
Eastman Kodak manufactured the Brownie Target Six-20 from 1941 to 1952.
Maria Goeppert-Mayer predicted two-photon absorption in 1931 and received a Nobel Prize for defining an atom’s nuclear structure.
Emil Wolf served as OSA President in 1978.
In a century, OSA has grown from 30 charter members to 20,000 members from 180 Countries
30 Members Establish OSA - Annual Meeting
Inventor Edwin Land first demonstrated the polaroid instant camera at an OSA meeting in 1947.
Compact discs inexpensively store software, movies, games and data.
Optical Data Storage
OSA Fellow Hilda Kingslake was a lens designer and historian of OSA. She was the wife of Rudolf Kingslake, founder of the University of Rochester’s Institute of Optics.
An artist’s rendering of DNA held by two beads trapped in optical tweezers.
OPN is OSA’s award winning news magazine. It began as Optics News in 1975.
Undersea fiber optic cable (like this one, made by TE Connectivity SubCom) makes up the backbone of the world's international communication network.
Subsea Fiber Optic Communications
Rudolf Kingslake, OSA President from 1947-48 and 1973 Frederic Ives medalist.
3D printers generate on-demand objects using lasers and “inks” made of plastic, ceramic or metal.
Katharine Burr Blodgett invented “invisible” or nonreflecting glass.
Katharine Burr Blodgett
For a 100 years, OSA has benefited from the dedicated leadership of its presidents.
Four-color DNA sequencing identifies the order of nucleotides in a DNA fragment. Red, blue, green and yellow represent one of the four DNA nucleotides.
Four-Color DNA Sequencing
Automated facial recognition and fingerprint identification are just two forms of biometrics.
Ernst Abbe is the father of modern optics.
OSA local sections number 22 around the world. Rochester, N.Y. is home to OSA’s first Local Section founded in 1916.
OSA Local Sections
OSA sponsors multiple programs to promote optics and photonics among K-12 students. Legacy programs include the Optics Discovery Kit and the Optics Suitcase.
Optics for Kids
Physicist Mary Warga became OSA’s first staff member, serving as executive secretary from 1959 to 1972. She received the first OSA Distinguished Service Award in 1973.
Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is a noninvasive imaging technique providing high-resolution sectioning of biological samples.
Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT)
Experimental physicist Chien-Shiung Wu disproved a fundamental law of nature.
The Argus II is the first FDA-approved retinal implant to treat adults with retinitis pigmentosa, a group of genetic conditions limit vision.
Laser pioneer and renowned educator Anthony Siegman served as OSA President and was active in the OSA Foundation.
Photons (red sine wave) are involved in transitions between energy levels.
Adolph Lomb served as OSA Treasurer from 1916-1932.
The Optical Society is the professional home to 270,000 scientists, engineers, students and entrepreneurs.
OSA founder Perley Nutting served as president from 1916 to 1917.
Laser barcode scanners transformed inventory tracking and shopping trips.
Laser Scanning Barcodes
OSA’s highest honor, the Frederic Ives Award, recognizes overall distinction in optics.
Frederic Ives and His Medal
OSA’s top-rated journals present the latest findings of researchers working in the field of optics and photonics.
Elizabeth Rogan has served as OSA CEO since 2002.
Quantum optics explains how laser light interacts with matter on a quantum level.
Max Planck earned the 1918 Nobel Prize for Physics for his work describing the flow of energy in discrete packets called quanta.
Charles Hard Townes with the maser, the laser’s forerunner, in 1955.
During the OSA century, just nine members have occupied the office of treasurer.
Carl Zeiss was a prolific optical designer, fabricator and entrepreneur.
In 1938, Chester Carlson invented electrophotography which came to be known as xerography.
Quantum encryption uses photons to secure messages, data and other sensitive information.
OFC grew out of a topical meeting on optical fiber transmission. The first OFC meeting was held in Washington, D.C. in 1979.
Theodore Maiman demonstrated the world’s first laser in May 1960.
Spectroscopy maps the unique spectral signatures of materials.
Optical lithography uses light to pattern integrated circuits for microelectronic applications.
Optical frequency combs precisely measure different colors of light.
OSA Fellows are OSA members who have distinguished themselves by advancing the field.
Willard Boyle (left) and George Smith, inventors of the charge coupled device sensor.
Charge Coupled Device (CCD)
Willis Lamb received the Nobel Prize in 1955 for revealing the fine structure of optical radiation from hydrogen. His work laid the foundation for quantum electrodynamics.
Laser fusion replicates the energy produced by the sun and stars.
OSA is working to grow and sustain global science funding.
Optical sensors and lasers are just two light-based technologies advancing robotics.
OSA founder Perley G. Nutting designed one of the first neon gas signs.
Gisela Eckhardt was an early pioneer in laser physics.
Energy farm with solar panel battery field.
This distinguished group includes honorary members Charles Townes, Gerhard Herzberg, Dennis Gabor and Art Schawlow.
OSA Honorary Members
Jean Bennett was OSA’s first female president.
Night vision enhances the available light to make a dark scene visible.
Microscope objectives magnify objects too small to view with the human eye alone.
James G. Baker, OSA President and winner of multiple OSA awards.
James G. Baker
Critical advances in telecommunications such as the laser and optical amplifiers were developed at Bell Laboratories.
Max Born’s mathematical calculations were the underpinning of quantum mechanics.
Taken in 1964, this is Harold Edgerton’s most famous picture. His knack for invention created the electronic flash--- allowing even the incredible speed of a bullet to be frozen in place.
High Speed Photography
CLEO/IQEC grew out of a strong tradition of providing forums for the optics community to share information on the latest basic and applied laser research.
OSA’s first Executive Director, Jarus Quinn, guided society activities from 1969 to 1994. guided society activities as OSA's first Executive Director
Metamaterials possess unusual but useful properties.
CV Raman received the 1930 Nobel Prize for his research on light scattering.
Formerly known as the Optoelectronics Industry Development Association, OIDA is now known as OSA Industry Development Associates.
Holography, developed by Dennis Gabor in the 1940s, became practical after the laser’s invention in 1960.
Otto Schott is the father of glass science and the specialized glass industry.
JOSA, OSA’s first journal, was published between 1917 and 1983. In 1984, JOSA split into JOSA A and B.
OSA honorary member C.E.K. Mees was director of Kodak Research Laboratories.
Metamaterials possess unusual but useful properties.
The nanoscale structures contained within metamaterials give them unusual properties.
By varying the structure and composition of these artificial materials, engineers can create novel tools such as superlenses able to image live viruses and cloaking devices, able to bend light and render an object invisible. (Photo: Sir John Pendry, courtesy of David R. Smith)
Photograph by Sir John Pendry, courtesy of David R. Smith