Emil Wolf

Wilson Professor of Optical Physics
DSc, Edinburgh University (Scotland), 1955

307 Bausch & Lomb Hall
(585) 275-4397
Fax: (585) 473-0687



Professor Wolf received a PhD degree from Bristol University (England) in 1948 and a DSc degree from Edinburgh University (Scotland) in 1955. He is presently the Wilson Professor of Optical Physics and Professor of Optics at the University of Rochester.

Professor Wolf's main researches are in physical optics, particularly in studies of coherence and polarization properties of optical fields, spectroscopy of partially coherent radiation, diffraction and the theory of direct and inverse scattering. He is the co-author with Nobel Laureate Max Born of a well-known book, Principles of Optics, first published in 1959 and now in its seventh edition. He is also the co-author with Leonard Mandel of Optical Coherence and Quantum Optics, published in 1995 and is the author of Introduction to the Theory of Coherence and Polarization of Light, published in 2007. Professor Wolf has been the Editor of an ongoing series Progress in Optics since its inception in 1961. Fifty-four volumes have now been published, the first one in 1961. Some of his publications are included in Selected Works of Emil Wolf with Commentary (World Scientific, Singapore, 2001). A volume entitled Tribute to Emil Wolf (SPIE Press, Burlington, WA, 2004) contains much information about his scientific career.

Professor Wolf is the recipient of numerous awards for his scientific contributions and is an honorary member of the Optical Society of America, of which he was the President in 1978. He is also an honorary member of the Optical Societies of India and Australia and is the recipient of seven honorary degrees from Universities in the Netherlands, Great Britain, Denmark, France, the Czech Republic and Canada.

Research Overview

Professor Wolf and his research group at the University of Rochester carry out research chiefly in the theories of coherence and polarization of light and in inverse scattering. Professor Wolf has recently found solution to a classic problem in the theory of reconstruction of crystal structure from diffraction experiment; namely the determination of phases of the diffracted beam.

Selected Publications

  • 403. S. N. Volkov, D. F. V. James, T. Shirai and E. Wolf, “Intensity Fluctuations and the Degree of Cross-polarization of Stochastic Electromagnetic Beams”, J. Opt. A: Pure Appl. Opt. 10, 05001 (4 pages), (2008).
  • 407. O. Korotkova, J. Pu and E. Wolf, “Spectral Changes in Electromagnetic Stochastic Beams Propagating through Turbulent Atmosphere”, J. Mod. Opt. 55, 1199-1208 (2008).
  • 408. O. Korotkova, T. D. Visser and E. Wolf, “Polarization Properties of Stochastic Electromagnetic Beams”, Opt. Commun. 281, 515-520 (2008).
  • 409. M. Alonso and E. Wolf, “The Cross-spectral Density Matrix of a Planar, Electromagnetic Stochastic Source as a Correlation Matrix”, Opt. Commun. 281, 2393-2396 (2008).
  • 410. O. Korotkova and E. Wolf, “Beam Criteria for Propagation of Electromagnetic Beams in Turbulent Atmosphere”, Opt. Commun. 281, 948-952 (2008).
  • 412. R. Schoonover, A. Zysk, P. Scott Carney, J. Schotland and E. Wolf, “Geometrical Optics Limit of Stochastic Electromagnetic Fields”, Phys. Review A 77, 04831 (6 pages) (2008).
  • 413. D. Brown, A. Spilman, T. Brown, R. Borghi, S. N. Volkov and E. Wolf, “Spatial Coherence Properties of Azimuthally Polarized Laser Modes”, Optics Commun., 281, 5287-5290, (2008).
  • 415. D. Zhao and E. Wolf, “Light Beams whose Degree of Polarization does not Change on Propagation”, Opt. Commun. 281, 3067-3070 (2008).
  • 416. M. Lahiri and E. Wolf, “Cross-spectral Density Matrix of the Far Field Generated by a Blackbody Source”, Opt. Commun. 281, 3241- 3244 (2008).
  • 417. E. Wolf, “Can a Light Beam be Considered to be the Sum of a Completely Polarized and a Completely Unpolarized Beam?”, Opt. Lett. 33, 642-644 (2008).
  • 418. M. Salem and E. Wolf, “Coherence-Induced Polarization Changes in Light Beams”, Opt. Lett. 33 (2008), 1180-1182.
  • 419. M. Lahiri, O. Korotkova, E. Wolf, “Polarization and Coherence Properties of a Beam Formed by Superposition of a Pair of Stochastic Electromagnetic Beams”, Opt. Commun., 281, 5073-5077, (2008).
  • 420. D. Kuebel, M. Lahiri, and E. Wolf, “An Inverse Problem in the Theory of Stochastic Electromagnetic Beams”, Opt. Commun. 282, 141-142 (2009).
  • 421. M. Lahiri and E. Wolf, “Cross-spectral Density Matrices of Polarized Light Beams”, Opt. Letts. 34, 551-553 (2009).
  • 422. M. Lahiri, E. Wolf, D. G. Fischer and T. Shirai, “Determination of Correlation Functions of Scattering Potentials of Stochastic Media from Scattering Experiments”, Physical Rev. Letts. 102, 123901 (1-4), (2009).
  • 423. E. Wolf, Reply to Comment on “Can a light beam be considered to be the sum of a completely polarized and a completely unpolarized beam?” by Jani Tervo and Jari Turunen, Opt. Letts. 34, 1002 (2009).
  • 424. M. Lahiri and E. Wolf, “Spatial coherence properties of monochromatic electromagnetic beams and of laser modes”, Phys. Letts. A, 373, 3694-3696, (2009).
  • 425. E. Wolf, “Solution of the phase problem in the theory of structure determination of crystals from X-ray diffraction experiments”, Phys. Rev. Lett. 103, 075501 (1-3), (2009).
  • 426. T. D. Visser, D. Kuebel, M. Lahiri, T. Shirai, and E. Wolf, “Unpolarized Light Beams with Different Coherence Properties”, Journal of Modern Optics 56, 1369-1374 (2009).
  • 427. M. Lahiri and E. Wolf, “Beam Condition for Scattering on Random Media”, JOSA A, 26, 2043-2048 (2009).
  • 428. E. Wolf, “Statistical Similarity as a Unifying Concept of the Theories of Coherence and Polarization of Light”, Opt. Commun., in press.
  • 429. E. Wolf, “Determination of Phases of Diffracted X-ray Beams in Investigations of Structure of Crystals”, Phys. Lett. A, in press.
  • 430. W. Knox, M. Alonso and E. Wolf, “What can ducks teach us about spatial coherence of randomly generated waves?”, submitted to Physics Today.
  • 431. T. D. Visser and E. Wolf, “The Origin of the Gouy Phase Anomaly and its Generalization to Astigmatic Wavefields”, submitted to JOSA A.
  • 432. M. Lahiri and E. Wolf, “Does a Light Beam of Very Narrow Bandwidth Behave as a Monochromatic Beam?”, submitted to Nature Photonics.