OSA | Living History

Peter L. Knight

2004 OSA President Sir Peter L. Knight is the Senior Fellow in Residence, Kavli Royal Society International Centre, United Kingdom and is a physicist renowned for pioneering research into quantum optics. His 40 years of work on the non-classical properties of light and the theoretical underpinnings of quantum computing have established him as an influential figure within the wider UK physics community.

Knight is also professor and senior research investigator in the physics department at Imperial College and chair of the Quantum Metrology Institute, National Physical Laboratory, both in the UK. He retired in September 2010 as Deputy Rector, Research, at Imperial College where he was responsible for research strategy. 

After receiving his doctorate at Sussex University, Knight was a Research Associate in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Rochester and the Physics Department and SLAC at Stanford University. He joined Imperial College in 1979 first as a Lecturer, becoming a Professor in 1988.

Knight, a dedicated volunteer, has served in many roles, including OSA president in 2004, Institute of Physics President (2011-2013), chair of the EPS Quantum Electronics and Optics Division, and editor of both the Journal of Modern Optics and Contemporary Physics. He is a Thomson-ISI Highly Cited Author.

Knight has won numerous awards including the OSA Frederic Ives Medal/Jarus W. Quinn Prize, the Thomas Young Medal and the Glazebrook Medal of the Institute of Physics, and the Royal Medal of the Royal Society. He was named a UK Knights Bachelor on the 2005 Queen’s Birthday Honours List for his work in optical physics. He is a Fellow of OSA.

He is the 2019 winner of the Herbert Walther Award "for remarkable and varied contributions to quantum optics and quantum information science, ranging from foundations to applications."

Optics is really something that underpins so much, from fundamental science right through to engineering applications that transform our world. Optics has been the enabler of things that have transformed our world more than anything else since the industrial revolution. And being part of it is just a great adventure.

Peter Knight OSA CAM Interview

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Document Created: 12 Jun 2013
Last Updated: 20 Dec 2019