OSA Honorary Member Stephen E. Harris received a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1959 and earned an M.S. in 1961 and Ph.D. in 1963 in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University.
Harris was a member of the technical staff at AT&T Bell Laboratories and an Honors Co-Op Student with Sylvania Electronic Systems. He is currently the Kenneth & Barbara Oshman Professor of Electrical Engineering and a Professor of Applied Physics Emeritus at Stanford University.
He is known for his contributions to electromagnetically induced transparency (EIT), modulation of single photons, and x-ray emission. In a diverse career, he has collaborated with others to produce results in many areas, including the 1999 paper titled “Light speed reduction to 17 metres per second in an ultracold gas,” in which Lene Hau, Harris, Cyrus Behroozi, and Zachary Dutton describe how they used EIT to slow optical pulses to the speed of a bicycle. He has also contributed to developments in the use of the laser, generating paired photons with single driving lasers. He has also shown the development of such pairs of photons using waveforms. His more recent work has sought to address restraints imposed on the types of waveforms that can be produced by the single-cycle barrier. Harris and colleagues succeeded in this endeavor in 2005 during a series of experiments aimed at obtaining full control of waveforms, noting "we were able to vary the shape of the pulse to generate different prescribed waveforms." It is hoped that these results will lead to coherent control of chemical reactions, as a probe for ever-shorter physical processes and for highly efficient generation of far infra-red and vacuum ultra-violet radiation.
Harris has received numerous awards including The Optical Society’s highest award, the Frederic Ives Medal, the Arthur L. Schawlow Prize in Laser Science (2002) from the American Physical Society, the IEEE Quantum Electronics Award (1994) and David Sarnoff Award (1978), Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Davies Medal for Engineering Achievement (1984), and The Optical Society’s Charles Hard Townes Award (1985).
He is a Fellow and Honorary Member of The Optical Society, a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship (1976), and was elected to the National Academy of Engineering (1977) and National Academy of Sciences (1981), among additional honors. Harris has over 230 professional journal publications and 17 U.S. Patents.
In 2013, Harris was named an Honorary Member of the Optical Society "for pioneering and profoundly influential contributions to the science of light, including optical parametric emission, lasing without inversion, electromagnetically induced transparency, and single cycle optical pulse generation."