Arthur L. Schawlow

Arthur Schawlow

Awarded the Marconi Prize in 1977*

Cited for his research in the fields of optical and microwave spectroscopy, nuclear quadruple resonance superconductivity and lasers.

Presented by: H. M. King Carl Gustaf XVI of Sweden, at the Ulriksdal Palace, Stockholm in 1977.

1921 – Born in Mount Vernon, N.Y., and his family later moves to Toronto.

1949 – Receives a Ph.D. in physics at the University of Toronto, and becomes a research associate and fellow at Columbia University, working with Charles Townes.

1951 – Joins Bell Labs as a research physicist, and marries Aurelia Townes, sister of Charles Townes.

1955 – Co-authors the book Microwave Spectroscopy with Townes.

1957 – Begins working with Townes on the principles of a device — the laser — that could operate at shorter wavelengths than the maser.

1958 – Proposes with Townes in a paper published in the December Physical Review that the principles of the maser could be extended to the optical regions of the spectrum.

1960 – Receives with Townes a patent for the invention of the laser. The first working laser, at 0.69 microns in ruby, is built by Theodore Maiman at Hughes Aircraft Company. Schawlow becomes a visiting professor at Columbia University.

1961 – Joins the Physics Department at Stanford University, concentrating on molecular spectroscopy.

1966 – Becomes chairman of the Physics Department at Stanford.

1981 – Receives the Nobel Prize in Physics for his “contribution to the development of laser spectroscopy.”

1998 – Joins Townes and scientists from Bell Labs and around the world to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the laser at the CLEO conference in San Francisco.

1999 – Arthur Schawlow dies at 9:30 a.m, April 28, at Stanford Hospital.

* Deceased.