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15 February 2023

Robert Byer Named Optica Honorary Member

WASHINGTON — Optica (formerly OSA), Advancing Optics and Photonics Worldwide, has named laser pioneer Robert (Bob) L. Byer, Stanford University, USA, as an Optica Honorary Member. Byer is recognized for his pioneering contributions to the scientific and technological foundations of lasers and nonlinear optics, his dedicated service to the optics community, and his leadership in academia and professional societies.

"Bob Byer has made extraordinary contributions to laser science and technology through his work as a researcher, educator, mentor, and leader. His exceptional contributions to our field and Society will have a lasting impact," said Michal Lipson, Optica's 2023 President. "It is a great pleasure to welcome Bob into this group of distinguished Optica Members."

Honorary Membership is the most distinguished of all Optica Member categories and is awarded by a unanimous vote of the Optica Board of Directors to individuals who have made seminal contributions to the field of optics. Their number is limited to two-thousandths (2/1000) of the total membership of the Society.

Robert L. Byer is the William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor Emeritus of Applied Physics at Stanford University. He received his M.S. and Ph.D. in applied physics from Stanford University and joined their faculty in 1969 following a role at Spectra Physics. 

Byer's work has had a major impact on laser technology. He developed the first visible, tunable red laser and helped with the development of the diode-pumped YAG laser, the most stable laser in the world, which forms the main beams of the gravitational wave-detecting instrument, LIGO. The commercialize of his work on high-energy pulsed lasers, diode-pumped solid-state lasers, and pulsed fiber lasers was key to the success of several laser technology companies. His is currently working on the Accelerator on a Chip International Program (ACHIP) with a goal of demonstrating a laser driven accelerator on a chip.

Byer is an outstanding volunteer, serving as President of Optica, the American Physical Society, and the IEEE Photonics Society. He is currently a member of the Optica Presidential Advisory Committee and has served the Society in many capacities, including Optics Letters editor, member of the Strategic Planning Council, Frontiers in Optics Program Committee, CLEO Steering Committee, and a Director at Large on the Board of Directors.

He is a Fellow of Optica, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Physical Society, the California Council on Science and Technology, IEEE Photonics Society,  IBM, the Laser Institute of America, and the National Academy of Inventors. He is the recipient of several awards and honors, including Optica's Frederic Ives Medal/Jarvis W. Quinn Prize, R. W. Wood Prize, and Adolph Lomb Medal, the Photonics Award, the Willis E. Lamb Award for Laser Science and Quantum Optics, and the A.L. Schawlow Award.

About Optica

Optica (formerly OSA), Advancing Optics and Photonics Worldwide, is the society dedicated to promoting the generation, application, archiving and dissemination of knowledge in the field. Founded in 1916, it is the leading organization for scientists, engineers, business professionals, students and others interested in the science of light. Optica’s renowned publications, meetings, online resources and in-person activities fuel discoveries, shape real-life applications and accelerate scientific, technical and educational achievement. Discover more at:

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