Professor Robert W. Boyd to Receive Willis E. Lamb Award for Laser Science and Quantum Optics

October 9, 2008

M. Parker Givens Professor of Optics and Professor of Physics Robert W. Boyd will receive the Willis E. Lamb Award for Laser Science and Quantum Optics at the Physics of Quantum Electronics (PQE) Winter Colloquium in January, 2009. This annual award honors Willis E. Lamb, Jr., the laser scientist who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1955. Along with Professor Boyd, the 2009 winners are Robert L. Byer of Stanford University and Norbert Kroo of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.

Professor Boyd received his BS in Physics (1969) from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his PhD in Physics (1977) from the University of California at Berkeley. His PhD thesis was supervised by Professor Charles H. Townes and involved the use of nonlinear optical techniques for infrared detection for astronomy. Professor Boyd joined the faculty of The Institute of Optics of the University of Rochester in 1977, and since 1987, has held the position of Professor of Optics. He also holds a joint appointment as Professor of Physics. Professor Boyd is a Fellow of the Optical Society of America and a Fellow of the American Physical Society. In 2002, he was named the first M. Parker Givens Professor of Optics.

Professor Boyd's research interests are in the area of Quantum Optics, particularly in the areas of nonlinear optical interactions, nonlinear optical properties of materials, and applications of nonlinear optics including quantum and nonlinear optical imaging. He is the author of Radiometry and the Detection of Optical Radiation (1983), Nonlinear Optics (1992), is co-editor of Optical Instabilities (1986) and Contemporary Nonlinear Optics (1992). Professor Boyd has published approximately 230 research papers, has been awarded six U.S. Patents, and has supervised the PhD theses of 26 students.

Professor Boyd's breakthroughs on slowing light ranked #87 in Discover magazine's Top 100 Science Stories of 2006. As reported by Kenneth Chang in The New York Times (Impressive New Tricks of Light, All Within the Laws of Physics, May 16, 2006), " the latest example of logic-defying tricks that physicists can now perform with light, Dr. Boyd and his colleagues demonstrated an optical fiber -- a glass strand that transmits pulses of light --with a couple of odd characteristics...A pulse of light shot into the fiber departs before it enters...Within the fiber, the pulse travels backward -- and faster than the speed of light. Perhaps most amazingly, Dr. Boyd's results do not violate any law of physics. The effect is indeed predicted by the equations describing the propagation of waves."

Previous winners of the Willis E. Lamb Award for Laser Science and Quantum Optics include:

  • Alfred Y. Cho and Federico Capasso, both of Bell Laboratories, Lucent Technologies, for their pioneering contributions to the quantum electronics of quantum well structures and the invention of the quantum cascade laser
  • Roy J. Glauber of Harvard University, for his contributions to our understanding of the foundations of quantum coherence theory
  • Herbert Walther, Max-Planck-Institut fur Quantenoptik, for his work on single-atom masers.