Ralph R. Jacobs

In Memoriam: Ralph R. Jacobs

August 29, 2008

OSA Mourns the Loss of Ralph R. Jacobs

Dr. Ralph R. Jacobs, an OSA Fellow who had a long career as a laser scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in Livermore, California, USA, died in his sleep at home on August 29, 2008. He was 65.

Jacobs died just one week after his retirement from LLNL on August 21, 2008, and two days after his engagement to Esther Ailor.

Jacobs received his undergraduate education from New York University and his Ph.D. in physics from Yale University.  He began his professional career at LLNL in 1972 after three years on the technical staff at GTE Laboratories.  He worked at LLNL from 1972 to 1980 and then again from 1990 to 2008.  Jacobs spent the decade from 1980-1990 at San Jose, California-based Spectra-Physics, Inc., where he was involved in the development of advanced solid-state lasers.  He served as engineering leader for Spectra’s laser products division and later as the firms’ chief technologist.

At LLNL, Jacobs worked on solid state and excimer laser research topics in the early days of the Laboratory’s Laser Program.  As a senior physicist and project manager, he focused on the development of laser sources for fusion and laser isotope separation programs.  After his return to LLNL in 1990, Jacobs served as the director of the Laser Program’s New Technology Initiatives effort and later as the director of the Intellectual Property Office.  He worked for seven years in what was then known as the Physics and Advanced Technologies Directorate, and most recently served for two years as the chief technologist for the Laboratory’s Industrial Partnerships Office (IPO), spearheading an initiative to forge relationships with business schools in the greater Bay Area.

Jacobs was remembered by his LLNL colleagues as “an energetic and enthusiastic researcher who had an excellent understanding of what was required to make a technology a commercial success.”

An OSA member since 1983, Jacobs was selected as an OSA Fellow in 1991.  He was also a Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS), a Fellow the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), and a recipient of an award for excellence in technology transfer from the Federal Laboratory Consortium. During his career, Jacobs published over 50 articles and received six patents for laser-related developments.

Jacobs is survived by his fiancée, Esther Ailor, two daughters and two grandchildren.  As a memorial, his daughters plan to establish an educational fund in his name.

Funeral services were held September 9, 2008, in Pleasanton, California, USA.