OSA | Living History

Emmett N. Leith

Emmett Leith (l) and Juris Upatnieks in 1965/ Photo courtesy J. Upatnieks

OSA Fellow Emmett N. Leith was born 12 March 1927 in Detroit, MI, USA. He attended Wayne State University where he received a BS in Physics in 1949. He continued at Wayne State and received a Master’s degree in physics in 1952 and a PhD in electrical engineering in 1978.

Leith was a pioneer of coherent optics in radar systems and is credited with developing modern holography in the early 1960s. His research began at the Radar Laboratory of the University of Michigan’s Willow Run Laboratory in 1952. Before holography, his research focused on synthetic aperture radar. In 1955, he joined the University of as a research assistant. He became a research associate in 1956, a research engineer in 1960, associate professor in 1965 and full professor in 1968.

Leith, along with Juris Upatnieks, displayed the world’s first 3-D hologram at an OSA conference in 1964. 

He's received many awards including OSA's R. W. Wood Prize, William F. Meggers Award and OSA's hightest honor, the Frederic Ives Medal / Jarus Quinn Prize ""for contributions to modern holography, information processing, and electromagnetics." He also received 1960 IEEE Morris N. Liebmann Memorial Award and the 1969 Stuart Ballantine Medal. In 1979, he received the National Medal of Science from U.S. President Jimmy Carter.

In 2006, OSA established The Emmett N. Leith Medal, in his honor to recognize seminal contributions to the field of optical information processing. 

Leith died on 23 December 2005 at the age of 78 in Ann Arbor, MI, USA.

Emmett Leith died on 23 December 2005, please see OSA's memorial entry.

One day we came across Gabor’s paper and simply out of curiosity decided to duplicate it.

University of Michigan EECS News, Spring/Summer 2006.



Document Created: 24 Apr 2018
Last Updated: 2 Jul 2019