Optics is the physical science that studies the origin and propagation of light, how it changes, what effects it produces, and other phenomena associated with it. This "Optics Timeline" highlights important events and developments in the science of optics from prehistory to the beginning of the 21st century. It also includes related developments in other fields and related milestones in the human worldview.
George Goubau at Army Electronics Command Lab, Bell Telephone Labs and Standard Telecommunication Labs
Ali Javan, William Bennett & Donald Herriott
Optical lithography, which uses light to transfer a pattern onto a photosensitive substance, and then etches out the pattern with chemical treatments. Used in making circuit boards.
Arthur Schawlow and Nicolaas Bloembergen
Laser spectroscopy, which uses laser light to study matter at the atomic or molecular level.
R.W. Hellwarth and F.J. McClung
Laser Q-switching discovered, a techinique that produces a higher power, pulsed output.
This laser became the first candidate as a laser weapon. It is presently the prime candidate as a laser source for fusion.
P. A. Franken, A. E. Hill, C. W. Peters and G. Weinreich
Charles C. Eaglesfied
Elias Snitzer and Will Hicks
Charles Campbell and Charles Koester
Nick Holonyak Jr.
The first red-light semiconductor laser, made with gallium arsenide phosphide which is the basis for all of todays devices using LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes).
Three groups at GE, IBM and MIT's Lincoln Laboratory
Simultaneously develop a gallium arsenide laser that converts electrical energy directly into infrared light.
E. J. Woodbury & W. K. Ng
Raman laser action, which uses light to increase the internal energy of the laser system, which then emits laser light at a frequency lower than the optical pump by a process called stimulated Raman scattering.
Alec Reeves at Standard Telecomm Labs
Commissions a group to study optical waveguide communications under Antoni E. Karbowiak; this includes the study of optical fibers.
Reported the first use of an acousto-optic cell to modulate and frequency translate lasers beams. Acousto-optic cells are still in wide use today.
Emmett Leith and Juris Upatnieks
Developed holographic techniques that allowed the images of 3-D real world objects to be captured on photographic film.
L. E. Hargrove, R. L. Fork, and M. A. Pollock
First reported demostration of a He-Ne mode locked laser with an acousto-optic modulator. Mode locking is the bases for femtosecond pulsed laser often used in today's research.
Roy J. Glauber
Created a model for photodetection and explained the fundamental characteristics of different types of light, such as laser light (see coherent state) and light from light bulb
Herbert Kroemer and Zhores Alferov
Independently proposed ideas to build semiconductor lasers from heterostructure devices.
Proposes the idea of Heterostructures, combinations of more than one semiconductor built in layers that reduce energy requirements for lasers and help them work more efficiently. These heterostructures will later be used in cell phones and other electronic devices.
A.B. Vander Lugt
Jerome V. V. Kasper and George C. Pimentel
Described the photodissociation Iodine laser, which used photodissociation to produce molecules with electrons in a higher energy level state. When electrons moved to a lower energy state, they emitted light, which then start the stimulated emission process to produce this laser's output.
William B. Bridges
First ion lasers, which use ionized gas as their lasing material.
Joseph E. Geusic and Richard G. Smith
Invented the Nd:YAG laser while working at Bell Labs. It is still the major work horse for material processing applications.
Charles H. Townes & Aleksandr M. Prokharov, & Bosov
Awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics "for fundamental work in the field of quantum electronics, which has led to the construction of oscillators and amplifiers based on the maser-laser principle."
JA Giordmaine and Robert Miller
Built the first tunable optical parametric oscillators, which transform an optical input wave of a given frequency to two output waves whose frequencies add up to the input frequency.
Moore's Law - the observation that the number of transistors on an integrated circuit board for a computer doubles approximately every two years.
Reported the first generation of picosec, laser pulses using a Nd:glass laser and a saturable absorber. They reported simutanous Q-switching and mode-locking with 100's of megawatts of peak power.
Awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics "for the discovery and development of optical methods for studying Hertzian resonances in atoms"
P. P. Sorokon and J. R. Lankard
The first organic dye laser, which uses an organic liquid dye to produce the laser light. The wide range of frequencies of the output of these lasers makes them good as tunable lasers.
Charles K. Kao & Goerge Hockham of Standard telecommunications Laboratories in England
Optical Card Translator System to identify quicly and accurately information on computer punch cards and microfilm
S. L. McCall and E. L. Hahn
Described studies of the propagation of very short optical pulses through a medium consisting of resonant two level atoms, developing in the process the criteria to be satisfied by the shape of the pulse so that it would propagate as an optical soliton (the area theorem) and describing the propagation mechanism of self-induced transparency (SIT).
E. Gerry and A. Kantrowitz
First operation of the CO2 gas dynamic laser was accomplished, which uses vibrational states of the molecule and can be pumped (energy input) by compustion or gas expansion. This laser was the first seriously considered laser weapon which was kept classified until 1970.
A.W. Lohmann and D.P. Paris
Proposes graded-index optical fibers. These fibers interact with light differently as you go from the center of the fiber radially out toward the edge of the fiber.
Earth-based lasers transmit information to orbiting satellites. Astronauts place laser reflectors on the moon.
C. K. Kao and M. W. Jones
This invention made possible mass production of holograms using an embossing technique.
Patent for Optical Reading Machine and Specially Prepared Documents. This machine would be able to read characters written in ordinary ink and visible fluorescent markings.
George Smith and Willard Boyle
Martin Chown of STL
J. R. Arthur & A.Y. Cho of Bell Labs
Using this technology laser action could be generated efficiently using less current.