Vladilen S. Letokhov, an OSA Fellow
and head of the department of laser
spectroscopy at the Russian Academy
of Sciences Institute of Spectroscopy in
Troitsk, Russia, died on March 21, 2009.
He was 69.
Letokhov received his Ph.D. (1969)
and a D.Sc. (1970) at the P.N. Lebedev
Physical Institute, Moscow Region,
U.S.S.R. In 1970, he organized the
department of laser spectroscopy at
the Institute of Spectroscopy, U.S.S.R.
Academy of Sciences. The following year,
he became associate director. He served
as the head of the department from 1970
until his death, and as associate director
for research from 1970-1989. Letokhov was also a faculty member at the
Moscow Physical-Technology Institute in
Dolgoprudnyi, Russia, where he served
as a professor of physics from 1972 until
his death and as chair of quantum optics
from 1986 to 1998.
Letokhov published more than 850
articles and 14 monographs in laser physics, spectroscopy, chemistry, biomedicine
and astrophysical lasers. He was highly
recognized for his seminal papers in nonlinear propagation of laser pulses through
amplifying media, self-modelocking and
ultrafast optics, frequency-stabilized
lasers, novel laser schemes, laser applications in nuclear physics and nano-optics.
But he is perhaps best known for
his many pioneering contributions to
laser spectroscopy. He demonstrated
the detection of molecules by resonance
ionization spectroscopy and resonant-enhanced multiphoton ionization. He
was also among the first to perform laser
spectroscopy with subwavelength resolution. He and his coworkers suggested
and developed laser control of atomic
motion, leading to the trapping of atoms
by the gradient dipole force as well as the
formation of optical lattices. His group
was the first to perform experiments on
the cooling, monochromatization, collimation and reflection of atomic beams
with laser radiation.
Vladilen S. Letokhov
He suggested and developed the field
of photoselective multiphoton chemistry, which formed the basis for several
practical isotope separation schemes
and provided the means for the ultrasensitive detection of trace species. He
combined the concept of photoselective
excitation of vibrational states of molecules with the subsequent excitation
of reactive electronic states.
a visiting professor
and guest lecturer at universities
around the globe,
including M.I. T.;
the University of
Angeles; the Israel
Academy of Sciences; Bayreuth
University Paris-Nord; Ecole Nor-male Superieure;
and the Cleveland
He was named
Regent Professor at
(1993) and the T.
at the University
of Lund, Sweden
(2000). From 2001
on, he was a part-
time research professor of physics at Lund
University’s Institute of Astronomy. Lund
University named Letokhov a Doctor
Honoris Causa in 2005.
An OSA member for 30 years, Letokhov was elected Fellow in 1976. Among
his many awards were the Lenin State
Prize (1978), the Quantum Electronics Prize on Optics (European Physical
Society, 1998), the Rojdestvenskii Prize
on Optics (Russian Academy of Sciences,
2001) and the Russian Federation in Science and Technology State Prize (2002).
He served as editor of Laser Sciences
and Technology, The Journal of Laser
Chemistry, Lasers in the Life Sciences
and The Journal of Nonlinear Optics.
He served on many editorial boards for
journals in optics, spectroscopy and
photonics. The Institute for Scientific
Information named Letokhov the most
frequently cited Russian scientist in all
fields of science from 1973-1988.
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