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In Memoriam: Herbert Walther,

Jul 22, 2006

Lyndsay Meyer
The Optical Society

 OSA Mourns the Loss of Prof. Herbert Walther

CLEU and MMG Staff
CLEO Europe Meeting: David Lee (EPS),Tom Rehbein (MMG),Kari Apter(OSA),Christopher Ulrich(MMG), Claudia Sixl (MMG), Eberhard Riedle(CLEO), Klaus Dittrich(MMG),Guenter Huber(EPS),Herbert Walther(MMG), Paul Shumate(LEOS)

Prof. Herbert Walther died on Saturday, the 22nd of July 2006 in Garching, Germany.

A renowned scientist and educator, Prof. Walther was a champion of worldwide scientific collaboration. He had been the chair of the Steering Committee of the World of Photonics Congress since 1996.  Under his guidance, the Congress secured a grant of the German ministry of research and education (BMBF). Walther was held in high regard by the community for fostering international collaborations and supporting ongoing cooperation in the World of Photonics Congress.

"During the 10 years Prof. Walther chaired the Steering Committee, he was able to unify the different interests of the participating scientific societies under one common roof, the World of Photonics Congress," said Christopher Ulrich, a longtime colleague. "His innovative and intelligent ideas were essential to developing the World of Photonics Congress. Prof. Walther was instrumental in creating this unified event of leading international conferences on the field of photonics, and today, the Congress has over 2.500 attendees, making it the biggest photonics event in Europe. "

Prof. Walther had a long and distinguished career as an educator, colleague and innovator. He received his undergraduate and graduate physics degrees at the University of Heidelberg, receiving his doctorate in 1962. His post-doctoral work was performed at the Universities of Heidelberg and Hannover and he became a guest lecturer at the University of Hannover in 1968. Having served in established positions at the Laboratoire Aimé Cotton in Orsay, France ; the Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics in Boulder, Colorado, USA ; the University of Bonn, Cologne University and the University of Munich in Germany, Prof. Walther reached the pinnacle of his career as a director and a professor emeritus at the Max-Planck-Institute for Quantum Optics in Garching, Germany.

As the 2003 recipient of OSA's highest honor, the Frederic Ives Medal/Quinn Endowment, Prof. Walther was a pioneer in optics. His work with tunable dye lasers and the fundamental study of cavity QED and physics of single trapped ions, led to groundbreaking developments, including the micromaser and the ionic Wigner crystal.

Along with the many scientific contributions Dr. Herbert Walther gave to the optics community, he did a wonderful job of coauthoring the article on "The Quantum Theory of the Laser" for OSA's Handbook of Optics. He also was known and respected for his work on the series "Advances in Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics."

A Fellow of OSA, Prof. Walther was instrumental in the development of CLEO Europe, helping to bring this large scientific conference on lasers and electro-optics to Europe. He also played a significant role on OSA's Nonlinear Optics International Advisory Committee, continuing his dedication to the international community. Walther also served as a member of the OSA Publications Council, the QELS Program Committee and the International Council on Quantum Electronics.

Funeral services were held Friday, July 28, at 10:30 a.m. at the cemetery of Pasing/ Munich  (Pasinger Friedhof, am Haidelweg/Pasing). A church service took place in the Himmelfahrtskirche at Pasing/Munich, Alte Allee 5a.

Awards & Distinctions

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