Stephen D. Jacobs

In Memoriam: Stephen D. Jacobs, 1948-2015

May 30, 2015

Dr. Stephen Jacobs, OSA Fellow, passed away on 30 May 2015.  Dr. Jacobs was diagnosed with level 4 brain tumor in July 2014.  He is survived by his wife Leslie and sons Jason and Aaron. Dr. Jacobs was made an OSA Fellow in 2005 for significant contributions to the development and understanding of magneto-rheological finishing and liquid crystal optics, and for pioneering work in educational outreach and teacher training.

Dr. Jacobs received his B.S. in Optics (with high distinction) in 1970, and his Ph.D. in Optics in 1976, both from the University of Rochester. He has worked at the Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE) his entire career, becoming a Senior Scientist in 1982. He managed the Department of Optical Technology within the Engineering Division. The department’s scientists, engineers and technicians conduct basic materials research, advanced development, process development and optics manufacturing. Areas of responsibility in support of the OMEGA and OMEGA EP laser systems include precision optics from the IR through the UV, high power dielectric/sol-gel coatings, laser induced damage, multilayer dielectric gratings for pulse compression, fibers and adhesives for fusion target fabrication and liquid crystal optics.
His work on novel optical finishing processes centered on mechanisms of material removal for Magnetorheololgical Finishing (MRF). His group and an international group of collaborators invented MRF in the mid ‘90’s, and the technology was successfully spun off in the form of a local company, QED Technologies, Inc., in 1997. Dr. Jacobs’ work in the field of liquid crystals spans three decades. OMEGA is the only high peak power laser system in the world to use large aperture LC polarizers and wave plates. It contains 300 devices in apertures to 200 mm. His LC group conducted research on polymer cholesteric liquid crystal flakes for active e-o applications such as electronic paper. A new area of research is optical rotatory power in LCs for UV applications. He was a Professor of Optics and Chemical Engineering and Senior Scientist, Laboratory for Laser Energetics, at the University of Rochester
During his career, he served on a number of OSA committees including chair of the New Focus/Bookham Student Award Committee and chair of the Optical Fabrication and Testing Program Committee.  In 1999, Dr. Jacobs and the Rochester OSA Local Section developed the Optics Suitcase--a terrific demonstration kit that includes experiments that teach about optics in a fun, hands-on atmosphere. Since its introduction, the Suitcase Program has benefited thousands of students around the world through lessons in polarization, diffraction, selective reflection and “theme packets," which contain the individual experiments for students to take home to share with their friends and family.
Dr. Jacobs was a Fellow, Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (2003), Member, Phi Beta Kappa (1970), and a Member, Tau Beta Pi (1970).

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Stephen D. Jacobs Endowed Fellowship in Optics at the University of Rochester.

OSA Awards Won