Richard G. Brewer

In Memoriam: Richard G. Brewer

July 22, 2012

In Memoriam:  Richard G. Brewer, 1928-2012

Richard BrewerRichard G. Brewer, an OSA Fellow known for his contributions to atomic physics, laser spectroscopy and quantum optics, passed away on 22 July, 2012, following a long illness. He was 83.

Brewer earned a B.S. from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in 1951 and a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1958. In 1963, after serving as an Instructor at Harvard University and an Assistant Professor at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), he joined the research staff at IBM, Almaden, where he remained until his retirement in 1994. He became an IBM Fellow in 1973 and a Consulting Professor of Applied Physics at Stanford University in 1978.

An OSA member for 35 years, Brewer was elected an OSA Fellow in 1977. He was also a Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS) and a member of the National Academy of Sciences (1980). Brewer received the Franklin Institute’s Albert A. Michelson Gold Medal in 1979 and Caltech’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 1994. In 1997 he endowed the Brewer prize at Caltech. The prize is awarded annually to a freshman who is deemed best at overcoming two "hurdles" that are a prerequisite for admission into a Research Tutorial, where the student carries out an independent research project. In 2000, Brewer was the recipient of the OSA Charles Hard Townes Award “for his outstanding contributions to quantum optics, characterized by originality and diversity, involving the interplay of theory and elegant experiments to elucidate fundamental problems of coherent optical transients, using atoms, molecules, solids and trapped ions.”

A partial list of Brewer’s contributions includes the first observation of stimulated Brillouin scattering in liquids, the invention of the optical Stark-switching technique allowing studies of novel coherent optical transients, an experimental test of the optical Bloch equations for solids, a fundamental theorem on coherent optical or nmr transients, a QED quantum jump theory of a single trapped ion, two-ion superradiance, and deterministic two-ion chaos.

Brewer had over 150 publications in books and physics journals. With Aram Mooradian, he initiated the highly successful International Conference on Laser Spectroscopy, which continues to be held in worldwide venues.

Brewer is survived by his wife, Lillian, a son and two daughters.

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