which is co-sponsored by
OSA, is always
this year there
will be a special
mark the 50th
of the semiconductor laser.”
he year 2010 marked a major scientific and technological landmark—the 50th
anniversary of the demonstration of the laser. The impact of the laser on science
and technology would be hard to overstate. After the initial demonstration of the ruby
laser, the scientific and engineering community quickly demonstrated laser action in a wide
variety of other material systems. This year, two years later, we celebrate another important
milestone: the 50th anniversary of the demonstration of the semiconductor injection laser.
The semiconductor laser has provided sources that are compact, inexpensive and highly
accessible. The applications range from surveying to laser printers to optical storage and,
critically, optical fiber communications. Indeed, semiconductor lasers have become so
common that they are frequently used to pump other lasers, as well as for high-resolution
spectroscopy in their own right.
While the basic notion of carrier injection to produce gain was already a feature of
the earliest semiconductor lasers, there have been countless steps in the devices’ design
and fabrication that have brought them to their current level of performance. Innovations have included distributed feedback designs, vertical cavity surface-emitting lasers
and, recently, quantum cascade lasers to extend to the infrared and far infrared. Over the
years, these innovations have been supported by major new growth technologies such as
Also of critical importance has been the task of making these sources highly reliable and
robust. The article by Richard Dixon in this issue of OPN gives a flavor for the arduous
process by which this challenge was met for the semiconductor lasers used for optical
The CLEO conference, which is co-sponsored by OSA, is always a celebration of lasers—
and this year there will be a special symposium to mark the 50th anniversary of the semiconductor laser. Among the invited speakers will be Nobel Laureate Herbert Kroemer, who
has made key contributions to the field, including the double heterostructure laser. The
conference will take place 6-11 May in San Jose, Calif., U.S.A.
CLEO:2012 continues to be the premier scientific and engineering forum for quantum
electronics, laser science and the applications of laser technology. This year, the conference
organizers received a record number of submissions. The conference will cover the gamut
from fundamental science with lasers to cutting-edge applications.
There will also be a symposium to commemorate the life of Tony Siegman. Tony will be
remembered by his many friends and admirers for his splendid research contributions to the
development and application of the laser, for his role as an educator and mentor, and for his
leadership in the community. I hope to see you at these symposia and the rest of the meeting in San Jose.
4 | OPN Optics & Photonics News