The Optical Society Names Mikhail Lukin the 2021 Charles Hard Townes Medal Recipient


The Optical Society is pleased to announce that Mikhail Lukin, Harvard University, USA, has been selected as the 2021 recipient of the Charles Hard Townes Medal. Lukin is honored for his pioneering theoretical and experimental contributions to quantum nonlinear optics and quantum information science and technology, and for the development and application of nanoscale quantum systems for sensing.

Mikhail Lukin earned his M.Sc. degree from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, Russia, and his Ph.D. from Texas A&M University, USA. Following postdoctoral work, he became an assistant professor of physics at Harvard University in 2001. Today, he is the George Vasmer Leverett Professor of Physics at Harvard, Co-Director of the Harvard Quantum Initiative in Science and Engineering, and Co-Director of the Harvard-MIT Center for Ultracold Atoms.

Lukin is best known for his work in the area of quantum optical science and its applications. His early work in atomic physics on electromagnetically-induced-transparency led to several seminal results detailing the interaction of atomic ensembles with light. In the past decade, Lukin and his group have developed and demonstrated optical systems that are nonlinear at a single photon level, achieving a four decade-long goal in the field of nonlinear optics. His current research includes quantum manipulation of atomic and nanoscale solid-state systems, quantum many-body physics and applications to quantum metrology and quantum information processing, including realization of quantum computers and quantum networks.

He is the recipient of OSA’s Adolph Lomb Award, National Science Foundation Career Award, American Association for the Advancement of Science Newcomb Cleveland Prize, I.I. Rabi Prize of the American Physical Society, Julius Springer Prize for Applied Physics, the Willis Lamb Award for Quantum Optics and Laser Science, and the George Gamow Award. He is a Fellow of OSA, American Physical Society, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

Established in 1980, the Townes Medal recognizes an individual or group for outstanding experimental or theoretical work, discovery or invention in the field of quantum electronics. The medal honors Charles Hard Townes, whose pioneering contributions to masers and lasers led to the development of the field of quantum electronics. Bell Laboratories, Hewlett-Packard, The Perkin Fund and students and colleagues of Charles Townes endowed the award.