Richart Slusher, who heads the Solid State and Quantum Physics research department at AT&T Bell Laboratories, was awarded the 1995 Arthur L. Schawlow Prize in Laser Science during the ILS-XI meeting, held 10-15 September 1995 in Portland, Oregon. Sponsored by the NEC Corporation, the prize is intended to recognize outstanding contributions to basic research that uses lasers to advance knowledge of the fundamental physical properties of materials and their interaction with light.
His citation reads, "For seminal contributions to a broad range of optical physics; nonlinear optics in semiconductors leading to the spin flip laser, CO2 laser diagnostics of fusion plasmas, microcavity lasers, and particularly, the experimental realization of squeezed light."
Slusher joined the technical staff at Bell Labs shortly after receiving his Ph.D. in physics from the University of California, Berkeley in 1965. Prior to assuming his present position in 1982, he served as head of the Interface Electronics Research Department in the Solid State Electronics Laboratory in the late 1970s, managing groups responsible for fundamental studies of high-speed Josephson devices, novel silicon devices, and small-scale electron beam lithography.
Slusher's research initially focused on fundamental studies of single-particle and collective excitations in solids, liquids and gases using laser scattering techniques. These studies led to observations of spin-flip Raman scattering and four-wave mixing in narrow bandgap semiconductors using the CO2 laser. In the field of quantum optics, he and his collaborators demonstrated photon echoes in gases and performed the first definitive experiments demonstrating self-induced transparency.
Between 1973 and 1984, he conducted laser annealing studies of semiconductor surfaces, as well as a number of pioneering studies of wave propagation and turbulence in plasmas, based on a technique he developed using small angle CO2 laser scattering and heterodyne detection. A key finding of the latter experiments was a region of strong plasma turbulence near the edge of toroidal plasmas, which strongly influences containment, transport, and wave propagation.
In the 1980s, Slusher's research interests returned to quantum optics and fundamental noise limits in quantum measurements. He and his colleagues were the first to demonstrate squeezed light noise reduction below the standard quantum limit, using four-wave mixing in an atomic sodium beam. He is presently interested in demonstrating squeezed light effects in pulsed light systems and the application of these new quantum light sources in precision interferometric measurement, spectroscopy, optical switching dynamics and optical communication. Most recently he has turned his attention to applications of microcavities to displays.