OSA | Living History

Peter Fritschel

OSA Awards & Distinctions

Peter Fritschel is a Senior Research Scientist in the Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research at M.I.T. He is currently Chief Detector Scientist for LIGO - the Laser Interferometric Gravitational-wave Observatory. He received his B.S. in physics from Swarthmore College, and his Ph.D. in physics from M.I.T., developing techniques for gravitational wave detection using interferometry. He is a recipient of the 2016 Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics and the 2018 Berkeley Prize in Astronomy, and is a Fellow of OSA and the American Physical Society. In 2018, he received OSA’s Charles Hard Townes Medal.

Fritschel’s research has focused on the design and development of ground-based gravitational-wave detectors, using extraordinarily sensitive, multi-kilometer baseline interferometers. The detectors use innovative precision measurement techniques, such as combining Fabry-Perot and Michelson interferometers, light recycling, and squeezed vacuum injection, to achieve sub-attometer position sensitivity. In the last two years these detectors have opened the gravitational-wave window on the universe, making transformational discoveries of gravitational waves emitted from the mergers of several binary black hole systems, and from the merger of two neutron stars.

Document Created: 19 Jun 2020
Last Updated: 19 Jun 2020