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Bernard J. Couillaud Prize

This art represents a coherent (laser-like) X-ray pulse with the largest color spread generated to date. Such rainbows of color can support extremely short, few-attosecond light pulses, which are invisible to the human eye but important for capturing the ultrafast dynamics in materials and nanosystems.
  • Application Dates:
    13 Jan 2021 - 28 Feb 2021
  • Program Prize:

    $20,500 Stipend, $5000 in travel expenses

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The Foundation and Coherent, Inc. have partnered to create the Bernard J. Couillaud Prize. The Prize provides the opportunity for an early-career professional (1-5 years post highest degree) 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. One early career professional will receive a merit-based award which includes a $20,500 USD prize  and $5,000 USD in travel expenses.

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. This merit-based prize is a $20,500 stipend along with up to $5,000 in travel expenses to attend our scientific conferences. Travel expense reimbursement subject to our most current travel reimbursement policy.


Application Dates:

Application Opens: 13 January 2021
Application Closes: 28 February 2021

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 

The Prize will honor 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