OSA | Living History

Michael Shur Memoir

Michael Shur

I was very fortunate to join the A. F. Ioffe Institute in 1966, where the first heterojunction laser was invented. Dr. Alferov received the Nobel Prize for that invention, Dr. Rudolf Kazarinov of Ioffe Institute also contributed to that invention.

In winter of 1973, I was attending the School of Physicists in a rest house about 70 km from Leningrad, we talked, went skiing, enjoyed life, and listened to lectures on solid state physics. In their lecture, Drs. Kazarinov and Suris proposed an idea of a quantum cascade laser; it was very well received. But actually making such a device looked to many, maybe even all of us, completely unrealistic.

I left Russia in 1976, and in 1979, while I worked at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY; Dr. Kazarinov was exiled from Russia because his wife organized an exhibition of informal Russian paintings in their small apartment. They settled in New York City, and I drove from Ithaca, NY to visit. Their apartment on Riverdale Drive in Bronx, NY had very little furniture but lots of beautiful modern paintings on the white walls. In my mind, these paintings were firmly linked to the quantum cascade laser ever since.