The OSA Foundation, Coherent Inc., Name First Recipient of The Bernard J. Couillaud Prize

8 May 2019


The OSA Foundation, Coherent Inc., Name First Recipient of The Bernard J. Couillaud Prize

Postdoctoral researcher David Carlson Seeks to Develop New Material to Enable the Integrated Photonics Revolution


SAN JOSE, Calif.--The OSA Foundation (OSAF) and Coherent, Inc., are pleased to announce David Carlson, a postdoctoral researcher at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, U.S.A., as the inaugural Bernard J. Couillaud Prize winner.

Caption: OSA Member David Carlson

Carlson received the award at CLEO: Laser Science to Photonic Applications, San Jose, Calif., U.S.A, on Wednesday, 8 May 2019. The Couillaud Prize is a merit-based award of $25,500 U.S., to support early-career OSA members who are engaged in ultrafast photonics research and application development. 

“David Carlson’s research is an example of the kind of studies that Bernard believed it was important to identify and support, because it is clearly interesting from a purely intellectual standpoint, and it also has very strong potential to solve problems in several real-world situations,” Coherent CEO John Ambroseo says. “We look forward to seeing the results of his work.”

Carlson’s winning proposal concerns development of the material tantala (Ta2O5) as a platform for nonlinear integrated photonics technology. “The benefits of this technology could affect many global industries,” Carlson says, “ultimately leading to faster and more efficient communication networks, precision LIDAR systems for safe autonomous vehicles, nanoscale biosensors for rapid disease detection, large-scale pollutant monitoring and control of quantum systems.”

No material has yet emerged as the ideal platform for commodity nonlinear integrated photonics, Carlson adds. Tantala is a promising candidate because it is a low-loss optical material compatible with large-scale semiconductor manufacturing. It could be used to make devices that are more power and space efficient, it can be readily doped with rare-earth ions for active laser devices and it has a wider transparency range extending from the ultraviolet to the far infrared.

Couillaud Prize winners have total research freedom for work advancing basic research or for translating an idea into a commercial innovation. The prize money is expected to help the recipient in her or his pursuit of the most compelling and interesting research issues in ultrafast optics.

The prize honors the memory and scientific contributions of laser physics pioneer, Bernard J. Couillaud, a former president and CEO of Coherent (1996-2002) who later served as chair of the board of directors (2002-2007). He is perhaps best-known in scientific circles for his contributions to laser frequency stabilization, known as the Hänsch-Couillaud method.

This year’s competition included an Honorable Mention recipient, Guilio Vampa, a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford PULSE Institute, U.S.A.

About The OSA Foundation

The OSA Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit foundation established by The Optical Society (OSA) in 2002 to carry out charitable activities that support the society’s mission to promote the generation, dissemination, and application of knowledge in optics and photonics. The Foundation helps cultivate the next generation of leaders and innovators in the optics and photonics community as they move through advanced degree programs and become active members of research, engineering, and business communities around the globe. The Foundation also works to secure OSA Awards and Honors program endowments. For more information, visit

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