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01 February 2024

Sir Peter L. Knight honored for quantum optical physics

Knight is named an Optica Honorary Member for seminal contributions to quantum optics and outstanding leadership

Caption: Sir Peter L. Knight

WASHINGTON — A second scientific quantum revolution, unfolding now, promises unprecedented computing power, the ability to sense the tiny electrical currents of the brain with wearable sensors and perfectly secure communications. Sir Peter L. Knight is internationally renowned for his ground-breaking quantum optics research. His investigations of quantum optics, strong field physics and nonclassical properties of light culminated in the theoretical foundations of quantum computing and quantum information science. In recognition of his influence within the international physics community,  Optica, Advancing Optics and Photonics Worldwide, has named Knight an Optica Honorary Member, the most distinguished of all Optica Member categories.

Knight is recognized for remarkable and varied contributions to quantum optics, ranging from foundations to applications, and his unique combination of educational, organizational, and globally active leadership skills. He is currently an Emeritus Professor in the Department of Physics, Imperial College London, UK; Chair of the UK National Quantum Technology Programme Strategic Advisory Board; and Chair of the National Physical Laboratory Quantum Metrology Institute.

"Peter's influence on our field has extended well beyond his pioneering quantum optics research. He is an outstanding leader, advisor, and mentor, bridging the gaps between academia, organizations, and governments," said Gerd Leuchs, Optica's 2024 President. "The quantum science and optics community benefits greatly from his service. We are proud to recognize him as an Optica Honorary Member."

Knight received his doctorate from Sussex University, UK. Before joining the Imperial College faculty, he was a Research Associate at the University of Rochester, USA and Stanford University, USA. He retired from Imperial College as Deputy Rector (Research) in 2010, where he was responsible for research strategy. He was previously a member of the Imperial College Management Board and Council and a Professor of Quantum Optics. He has been a Visiting Professor at the University of Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium, a Humboldt Research Award holder at the University of Konstanz, Germany, and a Visiting Scholar at the University of Texas at Austin, USA.

He is a Thomson-ISI Highly Cited Author and has won numerous prizes and awards, including the Thomas Young Medal, Glazebrook Medal, Faraday Medal, Royal Medal of the Royal Society, the Herbert Walther Award, and the Frederic Ives Medal / Jarus W. Quinn Prize. He is a Fellow of Optica, the Institute of Physics, and the Royal Society. He was knighted in the Queen's Birthday Honours List in 2005 for his work in optical physics.

A dedicated volunteer, Knight has served the optics community in many roles, including as Optica President in 2004; Institute of Physics President; chair of the EPS Quantum Electronics and Optics Division; member of the Optica Foundation Board, Optica Board and Strategic Planning Council; editor of both the Journal of Modern Optics and Contemporary Physics; and member of the Defence Scientific Advisory Council at the UK Ministry of Defence and the Science and Technology Facilities Council.

Honorary Member is the most distinguished of all Optica Member categories. It 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.

About Optica

Optica, 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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