The Optical Society Names Alexander Gaeta the 2019 Charles Hard Townes Award Winner

2 April 2019

The Optical Society Names Alexander Gaeta the 2019 Charles Hard Townes Award Winner

Honoree recognized for pioneering contributions to the fields of quantum and nonlinear photonics

WASHINGTON—The Optical Society (OSA) is pleased to name Alexander Gaeta, Columbia University, U.S.A., the 2019 Charles Hard Townes Award recipient. Gaeta is recognized for seminal contributions to chip-based nonlinear photonics, nonlinear optics in photonic crystal fibers and nonlinear propagation of ultrashort laser pulses.


“Technologies emerging from basic research in quantum and nonlinear photonics can be traced in many instances to the achievements of Alexander Gaeta,” said 2019 OSA President Ursula Gibson. “For more than two decades, his discoveries and inventions have been a driving force in the quantum revolution unfolding from advances in optics and photonics.”

Gaeta received a Ph.D. in optics in 1991 from the University of Rochester, U.S.A.  He is the David M. Rickey Professor in the Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics at Columbia U.  He was on the faculty of the School of Applied and Engineering Physics at Cornell University, U.S.A., from 1992-2015 and served as director from 2012-2014.  Gaeta has published more than 230 papers in quantum and nonlinear optics. He is the founding Editor-in-Chief of Optica and is a Fellow of the OSA, APS, and IEEE.  He holds 10 patents and co-founded PicoLuz, Inc.

He has made pioneering contributions to the fields of quantum and nonlinear photonics. These include key advances to nonlinear wave propagation that provided critical understanding to self-focusing and filamentation of ultrashort laser pulses, the generation of slow light via stimulated scattering, and nonlinear processes in photonic crystal fibers. Gaeta and his group have also performed seminal research in nonlinear nanophotonics that enabled photonic-chip dispersion engineering, optical frequency combs, generation of quantum states of light, and all-optical signal processing.   

Established in 1980, the Charles Hard Townes Award 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 endow the award.

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

Media Contact: