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16 November 2023

Olga Kocharovskaya Named 2024 Herbert Walther Award Recipient

Optica and DPG honor a pioneer in lasers, atomic physics and quantum optics

Caption: Olga Kocharovskaya, Professor of Physics at Texas A&M University

WASHINGTON — Olga Kocharovskaya is a pioneer in lasers, atomic physics, nonlinear optics and x-ray quantum optics. She developed novel understandings of the way energy is transferred in atomic systems. She predicted the phenomenon that causes a precisely prepared atom to become invisible to certain wavelengths of light, now called electromagnetically induced transparency (EIT). While it had long been cannon that lasing could only take place when a majority of atoms were energized to an excited electronic state, Kocharovskaya predicted lasing without population inversion (LWI), a new way of achieving the bright coherent light that lasers produce. While gamma rays had been thought of more in the realm of high-energy physics than laser science, her discoveries in the coherent control of resonant gamma-rays have changed the fields of quantum optics, laser physics and x-ray optics.

Optica (formerly OSA), Advancing Optics and Photonics Worldwide, and the Deutsche Physikalische Gesell­schaft (DPG) have named Kocharovskaya, Texas A&M University (TAMU), USA, the recipient of the 2024 Herbert Walther Award.

Kocharovskaya is recognized for field-opening contributions to lasing without inversion and electromagnetically induced transparency and for theory and experiments that initiated the field of gamma-ray quantum optics.

"An internationally renowned leader, Olga Kocharovskaya, is changing our understanding of quantum optics, laser physics, and x-ray optics," said Michal Lipson, Optica 2023 President. "Her pioneering work, dedicated service, and inspirational mentorship will have a lasting impact on our community and field. "

Kocharovskaya is a distinguished professor of physics at TAMU. Her research is in the areas of quantum and nonlinear optics, laser physics, x-ray optics, attosecond physics and quantum information science. Prior to joining the TAMU faculty, she held the Leading Scientist position at the Institute of Applied Physics, RAS, and the Adjunct Independent Researcher position at the Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium. Kocharovskaya received her PhD from the N.I. Lobachevsky Nizhny Novgorod State University, Russia, and Dr. of Sciences (Habilitation) degree from the Institute of Applied Physics, Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia. She is a dedicated volunteer and mentor, serving on editorial boards, international advisory boards and award committees, and organizing international conferences.

A trailblazer in her field, Kocharovskaya was the first woman professor in the TAMU physics department, and she is the first woman to receive the Walther Award. A Fellow of Optica and the American Physical Society, she has received several additional honors, including the inaugural Willis Lamb Medal for Laser Physics and Quantum Electronics, the Association of Former Texas A&M Students Distinguished Achievement Award in Research and the Texas A&M University Distinguished Professor Award.

The award commemorates Max Planck Institute of Quantum Physics Professor Herbert Walther's groundbreaking innovations in quantum optics and atomic physics and other wide-ranging contributions to the scientific community. The Herbert Walther Award recognizes distinguished contributions in quantum optics and atomic physics as well as leadership in the international scientific community.

About DPG
The Deutsche Physikalische Gesell­schaft e. V. (DPG), headquartered near Bonn, is the oldest national society and largest physical society in the world. As a non-profit organization with 62,000 members, DPG promotes the transfer of knowledge within the scientific community through conferences, events and publications, and aims to open a window to physics for anyone who is curious to learn more. The physics society as well aims to encourage junior scientists and promote equal opportunities in science.

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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