Two awards recognize breadth of Agrawal’s contributions in physical optics

August 8, 2019

Govind Agrawal.
Govind Agrawal, the James C. Wyant Professor of Optics

Two recent awards pay tribute to Govind Agrawal, the James C. Wyant Professor of Optics at the Institute of Optics, who has made seminal contributions in many areas of physical optics, including lasers, fiber-optical communications, and nonlinear optics.

Those contributions, “coupled with his scholarly books, absolutely deserve recognition with the Max Born Award,” said Optical Society (OSA) President Ursula Gibson when Agrawal was announced as this year’s recipient. “This honor recognizes Agrawal’s decades of distinguished scientific achievement.” The Born award recognizes outstanding contributions to physical optics, theoretical or experimental.

The European Physical Society (EPS) presented Agrawal with its 2019 Prize for Applied Aspects of Quantum Electronics and Optics, citing his “pioneering and groundbreaking research that underpins a wide range of current photonic technologies in the fields of semiconductor lasers, nonlinear fiber optics and optical communication systems.” The prize is given only once every two years to recognize the “highest levels of achievements in fundamental and applied research in optical physics.”

Agrawal joined the Institute of Optics in 1989 after holding positions at the Ecole Polytechnique, France; the City University of New York; and AT&T Bell Laboratories. During the last 40 years, his research “has touched on almost every area of quantum electronics,” the EPS notes. At Bell Laboratories, for example, he made numerous contributions to the field of semiconductor lasers and coauthored a book on the topic in 1986 with N. K. Dutta. In 1989, Agrawal published his second book “Nonlinear Fiber Optics,” now in its sixth edition, that has proven to be a classic and has been cited more than 23,000 times. After 2005, Agrawal's interests shifted to a new area known as silicon photonics. In 2007, he published a review on this topic in Optics Express that has been cited close to 800 times. More recently, he has been publishing in the areas of space-time duality and multimode nonlinear optics.

He is an author or coauthor of more than 450 research papers and eight books. His books on nonlinear fiber optics and fiber-optic communication systems are used worldwide for research and teaching. Since 2014, he is Editor-in-Chief of the journal Advances in Optics and Photonics. Agrawal is a Fellow of both IEEE and OSA. In 2012, IEEE Photonics Society honored him with its Quantum Electronics Award. He is also a recipient OSA’s Esther Hoffman Beller Medal (2015).