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Bernard J. Couillaud Prize

The Bernard J. Couillaud Prize in Ultrafast Lasers
  • Application Dates:
    13 Jan 2022 - 28 Feb 2022
  • Program Prize:

    $20,500 Stipend, $5000 in travel expenses

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Recognizing excellence on the frontiers of ultrafast lasers.



The foundation and Coherent, Inc. partnered to create the Bernard J. Couillaud Prize, which provides the opportunity for an early-career professional to pursue a compelling and innovative project that has the potential to make a meaningful and positive impact on the science and applications of ultrafast lasers.

The goal is to support individuals in the area of ultrafast photonics for the purpose of providing dynamic and rigorous research with a state of the art approach to solving difficult, real-world problems. Recipients will be granted total research freedom with consideration being given to the following: 1. Work focused on advancing basic research or; 2. Efforts focused on transitioning an idea into a commercial innovation. The prize is expected to help the recipient in their pursuit of the most compelling and interesting research issues in ultrafast optics. The Bernard J. Couillaud Prize is a personal prize and is not renewable.

How to Apply:

Applications will open in early 2022.

Application Dates:

Application Opens: 13 January 2022
Application Closes: 28 February 2022

Applicants Must:

  • Must be an early career professional (1-5 years post highest degree) pursuing a compelling project that has a meaningful global impact.
  • Work in the field of ultrafast photonics
  • Demonstrated the unique nature and global reach of the project.
  • Program requirements recognizes and excludes career breaks from career timelines (e.g., elder care, maternity or paternity leave). 

The Application will Include:

  • A CV or resume.
  • A statement describing why you think you would benefit from receiving this prize.
  • Current research description with a focus on how your work will have a global impact.
  • Example of published work
  • Two references

2021 Selection Committee:

  • Marco Arrigoni, Coherent
  • Philip Bucksbaum, Stanford University
  • Thomas Elsaesser, Max-Born-Institut für Nichtlineare Optik
  • Allister Ferguson, University of Strathclyde
  • Jiang Shibin, AdValue Photonics
  • Bo Li, Cornell University 

2021 Recipient:

2021 Couillaud Prize Winner Bowen Li

Bowen Li, University of Colorado, Boulder and Poseidon Photonics

Bowen Li is a postdoctoral researcher in the University of Colorado, Boulder and the CTO and co-founder of Poseidon Photonics. He is the author of more than 30 journals and conference papers. His research passion isfrequency comb technology and its application in communication, sensing and imaging.

His winning research is on the bidirectional all-normal-dispersion (BANDi) fiber laser. This technology is a next-generation dual-comb laser source that generates two frequency combs from a single laser cavity. Featuring unprecedented pulse energy, inherent mutual coherence, and high system compactness, it provides a promising solution for practical dual-comb metrology devices that benefit various applications such as molecular spectroscopy, biochemical imaging and precise laser ranging.

"I love working with ultrafast lasers, and I’m honored to receive this prize and continue to explore research in the next generation of dual-comb laser technology."

Past Recipients:

  • Bo Li, Cornell Univeristy, USA (2020)
  • David Carlson, NIST, USA (2019)


The prize is endowed by:

The prize honors the extraordinary contributions of Bernard J. Couillaud, former President and CEO of Coherent and later Chairman of the Board of Directors. A native of France, Couillaud earned his PhD in Laser Physics in 1978 at the University of Bordeaux and later became a full-time professor there. During his time at Bordeaux, he formed a colorful and storied partnership with colleague André Ducasse that pioneered continuous wave and pulsed dye lasers. Finding his way to California, he completed a three-year visiting fellowship at Stanford University that yielded, in collaboration with T.W. Hansch, the Hansch-Couillaud technique of laser frequency stabilization.

Joining Coherent in 1983, he was instrumental in the development of numerous Dye, DPSS, and Ti:S lasers in his roles as Director of Engineering, Business Unit Manager, and Vice President of the Laser Group. Along the arc of this extraordinary academic and industrial career, he authored 65 publications and received numerous patents. He became President and CEO of Coherent in 1996 and served in that capacity until 2002. Dr. Couillaud then became Chairman of the Board of Directors until his retirement in 2007. He gave more than a lifetime’s worth of dedication and achievements to physics, lasers, and photonics, and he remains an inspiration to everyone that called him friend, colleague, boss, or mentor.

View Past Winners