In Memoriam: Edward D. Palik

May 07, 2009

In Memoriam: Edward D. Palik, 1928-2009

Edward D. Palik, an OSA Fellow Emeritus who wrote and edited a set of reference books on optical constants, died on May 7, 2009 in Clinton, Maryland, of complications from Parkinson’s disease. He was 80.

Palik received his B.S. (1950), M.S. (1952), and Ph.D. (1955) in Physics from Ohio State University. He specialized in far-infrared spectroscopy. He was assistant professor at Ohio State University during 1955-1956, an NSF fellow at the University of Michigan in 1956 and 1957 and a General Motors Fellow at Ohio State University from 1957-1958. Palik then joined the Naval Research Laboratory, Department of Defense, where he worked from1958 - 1988, first as an NRC Fellow (1958), and then as a research physicist. During his career at NRL he worked in magnetooptics of semiconductors, for which he was awarded the NRL Hulburt Award (1964), the highest internal scientific award given by the organization. He also worked on the optical properties of semiconductors, total-internal-reflection spectroscopy studies of surface polaritons, cathodoluminescence studies of solids, and orientation-dependent etching of silicon in aqueous potassium-hydroxide solutions.

After his retirement in 1988, Palik joined the Institute for Physical Science and Technology at the University of Maryland as a part-time research associate. While there he carried out Brillouin-scattering studies of solids and studies of the defect limited instrumental lineshapes of multi-pass Fabry-Perot interferometers.

Palik is well known as the author and editor of the five-volume Handbook of Optical Constants of Solids. He was in the process of editing another book at the time of his death. He also served as editor for the first years of the OSA Far Infrared and Submillimeter Wave Technical Group’s newsletter.

An OSA member for 45 years, Palik was elected an OSA Fellow in 1976.

Palik enjoyed playing tennis, collecting Batman comic books and historic encyclopedias, and was a member of the Jules Verne Society. Survivors include his wife, Susan, a daughter and two sons.

Palik specified that his body be donated to Georgetown University School of Medicine so that he might continue to contribute to science.

Contributions in his memory may be made to the Parkinson's Disease Foundation or a favorite charity. If you would like to make a donation to the OSA Foundation in memory of Edward D. Palik, please visit

Awards & Distinctions