Skip To Content

Couillaud Prize in Ultrafast Lasers

Recognizing excellence on the frontiers of ultrafast lasers.

Application Dates
03 Jan 2024 - 08 Mar 2024
Program Prize

US$20,000 stipend and travel expenses to be recognized at a to be determined Optica-managed event

The Optica Foundation and Coherent, Inc. partnered to create the Bernard J. Couillaud Prize, which provides the opportunity for an early career professional to pursue a compelling and innovative project that has the potential to make a meaningful and positive impact on the science and applications of ultrafast lasers.

The goal is to support individuals in the area of ultrafast photonics for the purpose of providing dynamic and rigorous research with a state-of-the-art approach to solving difficult, real-world problems. Recipients will be granted total research freedom with consideration being given to the following:

  1. Work focused on advancing basic research, or pursuing a compelling project that has a meaningful global impact.
  2. Efforts focused on transitioning an idea into a commercial innovation

The prize is expected to help the recipient in their pursuit of the most compelling and interesting research issues in ultrafast optics. The Bernard J. Couillaud Prize is a personal prize and is not renewable.

Application Information

How To Apply

Applications will be available at

Important Dates

Opens 03 January 2024
Closes 08 March 2024

Applicant Requirements
  • Must be an Optica member.
  • Must be an early career professional (1-5 Years post highest degree) pursuing a compelling project that has a meaningful global impact.
  • Demonstrate the unique nature and global reach of the project.
  • Work in the field of ultrafast photonics.

Program requirements recognize and exclude breaks from career timelines (e.g., eldercare; maternity or paternity leave; inability to work due to Covid-19 and lab closures; long-term illness). 

Application Requirements
  • Applicant name, institution and contact information
  • Applicant CV/Resume* - no more than four (4) pages
  • Proposal* covering
    • Current research and the intended goals
    • Potential impact of your project to advance the field of ultrafast lasers
    • Potential for your research to solve real-world challenges and/or have a global impact
    • An overview of how the US$20,000 prize would benefit your research and career
    • Proposals should be no more than two (2) pages
  • One example of published work 
  • Two (2) references

*These documents must adhere to the following formatting requirements.

Formatting Requirements

  1. Paper size must comply with the international standard of A4 (8.3" x 11.7"; 210mmx297mm)
  2. A font size of less than 11 points may be used for mathematical formulas or equations, figures, table or diagram captions and when using a Symbol font to insert Greek letters or special characters
  3. Margins, in all directions, must be at least 1" (2.54cm)
  4. Must use a standard single-column format for text
  5. Arial, Times New Roman, or Courier at a font size of 11 points or larger
  6. Regardless of font, readability is vital

If you have questions, please contact

2023 Recipient

Edoardo Vicentini
Edoardo Vicentini
CIC nanoGune, Spain

He is recognized for his research in optical diffraction tomography with femtosecond frequency combs.

Past Recipients

Bowen Li
2022 Couillaud Recipient
Chiara Trovatello
Columbia University, USA
Bowen Li
2021 Couillaud Recipient
Bowen Li
University of Colorado, Boulder, USA
Bo Li
2020 Couillaud Recipient
Bo Li
Cornell University, USA
David Carlson
2019 Couillaud Recipient
David Carlson



About the Endowment

The prize honors the extraordinary contributions of Bernard J. Couillaud, former President and CEO of Coherent and later Chairman of the Board of Directors. A native of France, Couillaud earned his Ph.D. in Laser Physics in 1978 at the University of Bordeaux and later became a full-time professor there. During his time at Bordeaux, he formed a colorful and storied partnership with colleague Andr√© Ducasse that pioneered continuous wave and pulsed dye lasers. Finding his way to California, he completed a three-year visiting fellowship at Stanford University that yielded, in collaboration with T.W. Hansch, the Hansch-Couillaud technique of laser frequency stabilization.

Joining Coherent in 1983, he was instrumental in the development of numerous Dye, DPSS and Ti:S lasers in his roles as Director of Engineering, Business Unit Manager, and Vice President of the Laser Group. Along the arc of this extraordinary academic and industrial career, he authored 65 publications and received numerous patents. He became President and CEO of Coherent in 1996 and served in that capacity until 2002. Dr. Couillaud then became Chairman of the Board of Directors until his retirement in 2007. He gave more than a lifetime’s worth of dedication and achievements to physics, lasers and photonics. He remains an inspiration to everyone who called him friend, colleague, boss or mentor.

2024 Selection Committee

Name Affiliation Country
Jens Biegert ICFO -Institut de Ciencies Fotoniques SPAIN
Young-Kai Chen Coherent Corp UNITED STATES
Clara Jody Saraceno Ruhr Universität Bochum GERMANY
Tobias Steinle Stuttgart Instruments GmbH GERMANY
Chiara Trovatello Columbia University UNITED STATES
Edoardo Vicentini CIC nanoGUNE Consolider SPAIN
Image for keeping the session alive