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31 August 2018

The Optical Society Names the 2018 David Richardson Medal Recipient


WASHINGTON—The Optical Society (OSA) is pleased to name Steven Frisken, Finisar Australia and Cylite, Australia  the 2018 David Richardson Medal recipient. Dr. Frisken is recognized for seminal contributions as a researcher, inventor and entrepreneur, to a wide range of photonic technologies. His contributions have enabled the growth of the Internet, and inspired an entrepreneurial culture among Australian researchers.

The David Richardson Medal, first awarded in 1966, recognizes researchers who have made significant contributions to optical engineering, primarily in the commercial and industrial sector. The OSA Foundation, with contributions from Gary Duck and other philanthropists, endows the medal.

Dr. Frisken is a technology entrepreneur and inventor who has founded several successful start-ups in optical


communications and medical imaging and holds more than 25 U.S. patents. He is best known for his invention of a liquid crystal on silicon-based wavelength selective switch (WSS), which was commercialized by Engana and later acquired by Finisar Corp. These WSS products have helped shape the evolution of Flexible Grid optical transport networks. His venture, Cylite, is developing a highly parallelized optical coherence tomography (OCT) imaging platform with applications in ophthalmology.

Dr. Frisken’s research has included non-reciprocal optical routing, dynamic spectral filtering and phase-based spatial light modulators for wavelength routing in fiber optic transmission networks. His research on interferometry has led to micro-optic coherent receivers for optical transmission, spectroscopy and optical coherence tomography. Recently he has been researching the application of OCT to in-vivo optical metrology of the eye.

“New technologies developed by Steven Frisken have demonstrated lasting impact on optical fiber technology,” says award selection committee chair, Turan Erdogan, Plymouth Grating Laboratory, Inc., USA. “His creative innovations have benefited major telecom equipment manufacturers and network service providers in Australia, the U.S., Europe, and Asia.”

“Many people have contributed to the success of the optical telecommunication industry, however, only a few have developed multiple products that have allowed a step change in performance or direction. Dr. Frisken is among that elite group,” says Ursula Gibson, President-elect of OSA and professor of physics at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.              

About The Optical Society
Founded in 1916, The Optical Society (OSA) is the leading professional organization for scientists, engineers, students and entrepreneurs who fuel discoveries, shape real-life applications and accelerate achievements in the science of light. Through world-renowned publications, meetings and membership initiatives, OSA provides quality research, inspired interactions and dedicated resources for its extensive global network of optics and photonics experts. For more information, visit

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