August 2010 Newsletter

In this issue:

Editor's Note

Amy SpiveyWelcome to the August 2010 Division of Laser Science Newsletter! This issue contains a number of items that will be of interest to DLS members. Let me draw your attention especially to the DLS chair's letter, which provides an update on several important issues related to the Division of Laser Science. You will also find highlights from CLEO/QELS: 2010 in San Jose, California, and information about several upcoming meetings, including the Frontiers in Optics / Laser Science meeting in Rochester in October. The division is also soliciting nominations of candidates for several offices within the Executive Committee ahead of the fall DLS elections.

As always, feel free to contact me with any comments, questions, or items for inclusion on the next newsletter, which should come out in January of 2011.


Amy VanEngen Spivey, editor

From the Division Chair

Warren S. WarrenIn many different ways, 2010 is shaping up to be a landmark year for the Division of Laser Science. Over the course of the next several months, DLS will be grappling with a range of issues of long-range importance to our community. Your suggestions and advice are welcome on the issues below; send them to me and I will make sure they are seen by the Executive Committee.
  1. The laser 50th anniversary celebrations were highlighted by a black-tie reception at the Smithsonian on February 12, demonstrations in the Senate Office Building for Congressional Visits Day on April 29, and themed events at most of the major laser meetings of APS, OSA, SPIE and IEEE Photonics. One concrete outcome has been the development of the Laserfest web site. In my role on the Laserfest Technical Advisory Committee, and with substantial help from the DLS Executive Committee, I have seen this go from a concept to a valuable educational resource in a relatively short time.

    I invite you to explore that website, and tell us what can be improved. But there is a more general issue. There is no doubt that this site has enduring value past 2010, but it is not clear what format this should take going forward. Who will, or should, keep the content up to date? Who will pay for this?

    When I ran for DLS vice-chair, I pointed out the importance of figuring out how to get past the organizational barriers which separate these four organizations. Indeed, for the first time in my memory, these four societies worked together very effectively. The societies delivered a concerted message (basic science is a critical enabler of economic growth) which is extremely important, and often not fully appreciated. So going forward, I would like to see DLS commit to a permanent role in maintaining the Laserfest site, and get comparable commitments from the other organizations.

  2. For many years, APS has been one of the co-sponsors of the CLEO/QELS conference (Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics), along with OSA and IEEE. Responsibility (including budgetary authority) resides with DLS, which has been very good for the division over the years; until recently, the meeting was the biggest commercial venue for introducing new products, and ran a strong annual profit. A decade ago, I would routinely send students down from Princeton just to go through the exhibits.

    Over the last decade, the picture has changed dramatically. Within the US, Photonics West (sponsored by SPIE) has long since overtaken CLEO as the forum of choice for most laser companies; at last year's meeting, approximately three times as many vendors attended Photonics West, and the attendance there is vastly larger. In addition, various overseas meetings have served to slice up the corporate budgets. The consequence is that the exhibits at CLEO have slipped in size, and the meeting is struggling to stay even.

    This trend cannot continue; the financial repercussions for the sponsoring organizations (including DLS) are potentially large. In response to these changes, the CLEO steering committee has come up with a set of recommendations to revamp the meeting, which ultimately must be approved by the three "sponsoring organizations" including APS. Several members of the DLS Executive Committee have been heavily involved in producing these recommendations, which are nearing final form now, and the Executive Committee will be asked to approve them. In general, they involve elevating the "applications component to equal prominence with "laser development (historically, mostly the CLEO component) and "basic science (historically, mostly the QELS component).

    DLS has an enormous vested interest in the financial health of this meeting. It is one of the two meetings (along with FiO/LS) we sponsor annually. In principle, we could choose to withdraw from this meeting completely, confining our activities to the Laser Science meeting, but many DLS members have been active over the years in supporting CLEO.

    If you don't attend CLEO, what would need to change for you to consider attending this meeting regularly? If you register just for the exhibits, how can they be improved? If you do attend the technical sessions, how can they be strengthened?

  3. The program chairs for Laser Science XXVI (Todd D. Krauss, Univ. of Rochester, and James P. Shaffer, University of Oklahoma) have put together an outstanding group of session organizers, invited speakers and contributed talks, and they deserve the appreciation of our community for this difficult task. Laser Science is co-located with the Frontiers in Optics meeting (the OSA annual meeting). Both will take place in Rochester over October 24 to 28, and I hope you will attend.

    Over the last few years, the Laser Science program committee and the DLS executive committee have had relatively few interactions, which is certainly unfortunate. However, next year, the meeting will be co-chaired by Bob Boyd and Roseanne Sension. Both have long been active with DLS, and I expect that we will produce much stronger connections between these two groups. Ideas for sessions and suggestions for session chairs should be directed to the two of them.

  4. The Nominating Committee is assembling a slate going forward for candidates to stand for election as 2011 DLS Vice-Chair, and for membership on the Executive Committee. Mark Raizen is chairing this committee; suggestions (and even self-nominations) are welcome.

  5. Fellowship status from the APS Division of Laser Science, and nomination for the APS Schawlow Award, are appropriate recognitions for colleagues with a record of distinction in laser science. I urge you to consider making such nominations; we are eager to put forward the best candidates possible to APS as a whole.

By tradition, we turn over administrative duties from Chair to Chair-Elect at the end of the October FiO/LS meeting, so this will be my last Chair's message. I appreciate your support in electing me, and it has been an honor to work with the outstanding and dedicated people who represent you on the Executive Committee.

Warren S. Warren
Chair, APS Division of Laser Science

Highlights from the CLEO/QELS: 2010 meeting

(courtesy the Optical Society)

This year's CLEO/QELS conference was held May 16 – 21 in San Jose, California. The program featured more than 1,700 presentations in technical hot topics including ultrafast optics, energy-efficient photonics, semiconductor lasers, nanophotonics, and biophotonics. Breakthrough papers were presented, such as new laser techniques for cooling semiconductors, using the world's most powerful x-ray system to probe molecules, and a new metamaterial device that could someday lead to see-through cameras.

The CLEO: Applications program focused on the demonstration of components, systems, and emerging applications of lasers and electro-optical technology. Timely topics included energy and the environment, biotechnology, defense and security, and industrial manufacturing. Also on the show floor, the CLEO: Market Focus program featured business development and commercialized applications in energy, industrial lasers, defense and security, and biophotonics. New this year, the CLEO: Technology Transfer Showcase offered a "one-stop way to learn about the latest optics and photonics technologies coming out of universities and government labs. These well-attended programs complemented cutting-edge products and demos on the show floor, where the field's leading global companies showcased the latest in photonics technology and services.

Charles Townes

Dr. Charles Townes speaks at the LaserFest Symposium

laserfest symposium

Attendees at the LaserFest Symposium.

attendees vendors

Attendees speak with vendors on the CLEO/QELS exhibit floor


Musicians perform at the LasersRock! concert.

Photos provided courtesy the Optical Society

At CLEO/QELS, LaserFest was celebrated with several special events. In fact, CLEO/QELS: 2010 kicked off exactly 50 years after the first laser demonstration by Theodore Maiman at Hughes Research Labs on May 16, 1960. A special symposium featuring several laser pioneers, Nobel Laureates, historians and experts was held May 16. On the exhibit floor, attendees could view a display of more than 100 lasers from the past 50 years and see a live demonstration of an early ruby laser at the LaserFest Pavilion. On Tuesday night, the LasersRock! concert featured musical entertainment provided by fellow CLEO/QELS colleagues. Video of the LasersRock! concert can be viewed on the LaserFest web site here. Additionally, to recognize the laser's anniversary, President Obama sent a message to CLEO/QELS attendees recognizing the laser as "one of the most important and versatile inventions of the 20th century."

More news items related to CLEO/QELS:2010 can be found here.


As mentioned in the Chair's Letter above, LaserFest is a yearlong celebration of the 50th anniversary of the laser, which was first demonstrated in 1960. The American Physical Society, the Optical Society, SPIE and the IEEE Photonics Society are collaborating to sponsor events around the world that will showcase how the laser works, the history of the laser and its impact on society, and the laser's potential for the future. You can get involved by participating or hosting your own event. Find out more at

Upcoming meetings

  • Frontiers in Optics 2010 and Laser Science XXVI (FiO/LS) -

    Dates: October 24 – 28, 2010
    Location: Rochester Riverside Convention Center, Rochester, New York, USA
    Housing and pre-registration deadline: August 28, 2010
    Post-deadline paper submission deadline: October 1, 2010

    Frontiers in Optics 2010/Laser Science XXVI will offer a comprehensive technical program covering an array of hot topics in optical science and engineering. This year's conference will include more than 200 invited speakers and almost 500 contributed talks, a plenary session and awards presentation, Science Educators Day, special symposia, short courses, and more.

    The LS XXVI meeting serves as the annual meeting of the Division of Laser Science (DLS) of the APS and provides an important forum for presenting the latest work on laser applications and development spanning a broad range of topics in physics, biology and chemistry. In collaboration with the OSA, DLS will provide thorough coverage of mutually interesting topics in a number of joint and separately-sponsored sessions. In addition, the Symposium on Undergraduate Research and New Laser Scientists Conference will also be held at FiO/LS this year (see more details below). We look forward to seeing you in Rochester!

  • International Workshop on Ultracold Rydberg Physics

    Dates: November 28 – December 1, 2010
    Location: Recife, Brazil
    Abstract submission deadline: September 30, 2010
    Registration deadline: October 15, 2010
    Housing deadline: October 28, 2010
    For further information, see letter of invitation below.

  • CLEO/QELS 2011
    (Conference on Lasers and Electro-optics / Quantum Electronics and Laser Science)

    Dates: May 1 – 6, 2011
    Location: Baltimore Convention Center, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
    Abstract submission deadline: December 2, 2010

Symposium on Undergraduate Research at FiO/LS 2010

(From Harold Metcalf)

The tenth annual Symposium on Undergraduate Research at the Frontiers in Optics / Laser Science meeting is tentatively scheduled for Monday, October 25, from 12:00 – 6:00 p.m. in Rochester, New York. This symposium is always one of the highlights of the meeting, and all meeting participants are invited to attend the posters and talks. It has grown from ten presentations in 2001 to more than thirty in recent years. Presenters typically represent dozens of universities and research institutes in the U.S. and Europe. Programs, articles, and photos from past symposia are available here .

Symposium events begin with a poster session that located in a highly trafficked passageway and thus attracts many conference participants. The entire area is usually abuzz with conver­sation and discussion as the excited presenters talk about their work to interested scientists and fellow students. The oral presentation sessions begin later and last throughout the rest of the afternoon. Besides students and mentors, the audience usually includes quite a few regular conference attendees. The final Symposium event will be a casual dinner at a local restaurant. Students, mentors and conference organizers are joined by several guests and DLS officers, who greatly enjoy this opportunity to network with students who will be future leaders of the field. Students write voluminous comments after the event, typified by the following: "I thoroughly enjoyed myself. This was the first conference I had ever been to, and I hope to attend many more.

The abstract deadline will be sometime toward the end of the summer, since undergraduate students usually do their projects in various summer programs. Those interested in having their names on the mailing list should write to Dr. Harold Metcalf. Please send names and e-mail addresses for both the student and the advisor.

New Laser Scientist Conference at FiO/LS 2010

(From Steve Cundiff)

The Division of Laser Science will sponsor the 6th New Laser Scientist Conference (NLSC), which will run on October 28th and 29th in Rochester as a satellite meeting to Frontiers in Optics / Laser Science. Every two years, the NLSC brings together laser scientists, typically faculty, who are just starting their independent research careers. The meeting gives them an opportunity to network and meet with program managers from funding agencies, who are also invited to attend. This year's meeting is being organized by Steve Cundiff.

Fall 2010 Division of Laser Science Elections

(from Anne Kelley, Secretary/Treasurer of DLS)

This fall, the DLS will elect a new Vice-Chair, a new Division Councillor, and two new Members-At-Large of the Executive Committee. The chair of the nominating committee is Mark Raizen. You are encouraged to contact Mark with names of nominees. Once we have a slate of candidates, all DLS members will receive an e-mail with information on the candidates and instructions on voting.

For your information, the current members of the DLS Executive Committee are:

Chair Warren S. Warren (Duke University)
Chair-elect Steven Cundiff (JILA, NIST and University of Colorado)
Vice Chair Carlos Stroud (University of Rochester)
Past Chair Nicholas Bigelow (University of Rochester)
Secretary / Treasurer Anne Kelley (University of California – Merced)
Councillor Steven Rolston (University of Maryland - College Park)
Member-at-Large Dana Anderson (University of Colorado – Boulder)
Antoinette Taylor (Los Alamos National Laboratory)
Michael Downer (University of Texas – Austin)
Robert Jones (University of Virginia)
Maria Allegrini (University of Pisa)
Paul Berman (University of Michigan - Ann Arbor)
Newsletter editor
Amy VanEngen Spivey (University of Puget Sound)

Distinguished Traveling Lecturer Program (next deadline: November 30)

The Distinguished Traveling Lecturer (DTL) Program is sponsored by the DLS, and its goal is to bring distinguished scientists to speak at colleges and departments that might not otherwise have the resources to invite them. The program covers the speaker's honorarium and travel expenses, while the host institution is responsible for the speaker's local expenses. Application deadlines occur on May 30 and November 30 each year. The current distinguished lecturers are:

Laurie Butler (University of Chicago)
Hui Cao (Yale University)
Eric Cornell (University of Colorado and NIST)
Fleming Crim (University of Wisconsin)
Jim Kafka (Spectra-Physics / Newport)
Chris Monroe (University of Maryland)
Luis Orozco (University of Maryland)
Carlos Stroud (University of Rochester)
Ron Walsworth (Harvard University)
Linda Young (Argonne National Laboratory)

Nominate a colleague for the 2011 National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Award for Initiatives in Research

Deadline: September 15, 2010

The National Academy of Sciences Award for Initiatives in Research is given to recognize innovative young scientists (preferably 35 years old or younger) and to encourage research likely to lead toward new capabilities for human benefit. The field of presentation rotates among the physical sciences, engineering, and mathematics. The 2011 award is scheduled for presentation in the area of optical sciences and is presented with a prize of $15,000. Recipients must be citizens of the United States. Detailed instructions for submitting a nomination can be found here.

Letter of Invitation for the International Workshop on Ultracold Rydberg Physics:
A Humboldt Kolleg within the Brazilian-German Year of Science, Technology and Innovation 2010 / 2011

Dear Colleague,

The International Workshop on Ultracold Rydberg Physics - A Humboldt Kolleg within the Brazilian-German Year of Science, Technology and Innovation 2010/2011, will be held in Recife, Brazil from November 28 to December 1, 2010. The workshop will take place at the Atlante Plaza hotel located at the Boa Viagem Beach in Recife. We are planning an exciting meeting where senior scientists, junior scientists, pos-docs and graduate students can present their work and share ideas on the future of the field. We also encourage student attendance, since there will be some funds for student support. We hope that you will be able to join us and contribute to the success of the workshop. The list of invited speakers may be found here.

The conference is aimed at understanding the many aspects of Rydberg atom systems. The study of Rydberg atoms is experiencing a renaissance due to the many recent advances made in this research area, such as the progress towards making quantum gates, the observations of new and exotic types of molecules, the investigation of plasmas and study of many-body dynamics. Of central interest is controlling the interactions between Rydberg atoms so that they may be engineered to make new devices based on quantum entanglement or used to investigate phenomena that can be better understood by taking advantage of this control. The workshop will cover areas such as anti-hydrogen, devices and quantum computation, cold plasmas, interactions and collisions, Rydberg molecules, lifetime and properties, ions in BEC, Rydberg atom trapping, many-body physics, and
trapped ions.

We look forward to seeing you at the workshop.

Organizing Committee:
Claudio L. Cesar - Federal University of Rio de Janeiro - Brazil
James P. Shaffer - University of Oklahoma - USA
Luis G. Marcassa - University of São Paulo - Brazil

Minutes of the May 2010 DLS Executive Committee meeting

(from Anne Kelley, Secretary/Treasurer of DLS)

Blossom Hill 1, Marriott Hotel, San Jose, CA
May 17, 2010

Present: Warren Warren (chair), Steve Cundiff (chair-elect), Carlos Stroud (vice-chair), Nick Bigelow (past chair), Anne Kelley (secretary-treasurer), Bob Jones (member-at-large), Toni Taylor (member-at-large), Paul Berman (member-at-large), Amy VanEngen Spivey (newsletter editor).

Warren called the meeting to order at 10:05 am.

Warren introduced the two new Executive Committee members present: Paul Berman (member-at-large) and Carlos Stroud (vice-chair). The other new member-at-large, Maria Allegrini, could not attend.

The minutes from the Oct. 13, 2010 meeting at FiO/LS in San Jose were approved.

Anne presented a treasurer's report. The net worth of the division has remained relatively flat over the past couple of years due to reduced income from CLEO/QELS and a lower rate of return paid by APS on investments. Our membership is slightly below the 3% of APS nominally required to remain a Division (it is now 2.83%), but this has not changed much in recent years and we have not been under pressure from APS to grow our numbers. There was some discussion of approaches to increasing membership, including outreach to industry; FIAP is the APS division/forum having the second largest overlap with DLS. Nearly half of all DLS members are also members of DAMOP, but the sense is that there is little emphasis on optical physics in DAMOP and the two divisions serve clearly different purposes despite considerable membership overlap.

Anne discussed the Student Travel Grant program. For QELS there were nine fully qualified applicants, of which four awards of $500 each were made. Anne gave preference to oral over poster presentations in selecting among otherwise qualified applicants and this was supported by the committee. Anne noted that last year only one qualified application was received for the fall Laser Science meeting; a number of other applications were received from students presenting in FiO sessions, who are not eligible under the current rules. It was agreed that we need to get more students applying for travel grants to LS. There was discussion of whether we should care about presentation at LS versus FiO as long as the students are DLS members. There were differing opinions on this, but it was decided to allow travel grant awardees to present at either LS or FiO, with preference given to FiO presenters. The committee also voted to increase the maximum student travel grant allocation for FiO/LS to $5000 total (up to $500 per student). Policies governing the travel grants for next spring's CLEO/QELS should be discussed at our fall meeting.

Anne announced the newly elected APS Fellows from DLS. They will receive their certificates and pins at the LS meeting this fall if they choose to attend. There was discussion of allowing new fellows to choose to receive their awards at either LS or QELS; it is too late for this year, but this question should be revisited at the fall meeting. The deadline for fellowship applications is June 15 and we should be sure that worthy candidates are nominated. Carlos is chair of fellowship committee this year, Steve is ex officio, and Warren will appoint the rest of the committee soon.

Warren reported on LaserFest activities. While DLS became involved in LaserFest somewhat later than would have been desirable, Warren and other APS members have been quite active, often behind the scenes, to try to insure that the web site, physical materials generated, and public events are both scientifically correct and meaningful to the public. The original "women in laser science section on the web site has been changed to "faces in laser science, updated to include a number of men, and otherwise diversified. The "what is a laser definition on the web site has also been revised after much discussion. A particularly notable product of LaserFest is the SpectraSound kit (laser pointer + solar cell), selling for $15, which allows one to transmit sound across a room using light instead of a wire. It is hoped that the LaserFest web site will be preserved in archival form after 2010. It is an excellent educational resource.

Nick reported that the NSBP/NSHP (National Society of Black/Hispanic Physicists) meeting, at which DLS had planned to present one or more "best paper awards to students, was cancelled this year because funding fell through. It is hoped that the meeting will be resurrected next year.

Warren discussed the preliminary schedule and logistics for the 2010 Laser Science meeting (October 24-28, in Rochester). Warren pointed out that currently the DLS chair appoints the following year's LS program chairs, who will serve after the person who appointed them has rotated to past chair. This results in a lack of communication and continuity. It was agreed that starting this year, the chair-elect (currently Steve) should appoint the following year's LS program chairs with advice from the current DLS chair (Warren) and the EC. Also, the program chairs will be asked to stay on in an advisory capacity as "general chairs for the following year. There was some discussion of people who might be asked to serve as 2011 LS program chairs. It was also noted that this year's LS symposia are rather narrowly defined and many DLS members would not find a home for their work in any of the symposia. There was discussion of having some running symposia that would be more general and constant from year to year, to help build a community of people who attend LS regularly.

There was a visit from OSA staff: CEO Liz Rogan, meetings manager Chad Stark, COO Jayne Somes-Schloesser, and President-elect Chris Dainty. The FiO/LS and CLEO/QELS meetings were discussed. They do not yet have definite numbers for CLEO/QELS, but pre-meeting estimates were similar to 2009 except that the short course program this year has not been very successful. The current plan is for CLEO/QELS to continue to alternate San Jose/Baltimore through 2014. Exhibitors who have been polled are split about 50-50 on whether they prefer east or west coast.

Mike Raymer (DLS rep to CLEO Steering, DLS rep to and chair of JCQE, and member of OSA board of directors), Nick, and Warren led a discussion of CLEO/QELS and its future. There was a lengthy discussion of the history of CLEO/QELS and the downward trend in profits caused by a downturn in exhibitors which led the co-sponsors (OSA, APS-DLS, and IEEE) to hire consultants to review CLEO. The consultants recommended growing the exhibit by having more applications, expanding the program committee to encompass applications, and putting applications programming on an equal footing with the "science programming. The CLEO Steering Committee will vote tomorrow on adopting the recommendations of an ad hoc committee to "rebrand CLEO/QELS as a single conference called CLEO with four parts. The previous QELS will become CLEO:QELS Fundamental Science while the applications part, previously PhAST, will become CLEO: Advanced Developments. In principle, the CLEO Steering vote is only advisory and the sponsors all have to approve in order for CLEO 2011 to follow this format. There was considerable discussion of whether there is a well defined, cogent plan which the vendors will support, and whether DLS can exert leverage by withholding support until there is such a plan. There was also discussion of whether, if CLEO drops the QELS name, DLS could take QELS and make it a separate meeting or co-locate with some other meeting. Anne was charged with finding out from Joe Serene whether we have a long-term contract to collocate QELS with CLEO.

Steve reported on the New Laser Scientists meeting to be held this fall in Rochester, starting immediately after FiO/LS ends. Steve is chair and Dan Stamper-Kurn from Berkeley is co-chair, to be chair in Fall 2012. Steve has received 49 nominations and has started sending out invitations, hoping for a final attendance of about 20. Three program managers have committed to come.

Steve led a discussion of the possibility of combining the LS meeting with the DAMOP meeting, which will now be run by APS in a convention center. The sense of the group was that the goals of DLS and DAMOP are sufficiently distinct, and the connection with FiO sufficiently valuable, that moving toward shifting the LS meeting from FiO to DAMOP is not a good idea. An alternative suggestion was made to have DLS organize a few sessions at the March meeting, which will be held in Dallas in 2011. It was suggested that this might help DLS increase membership. DAMOP has its own annual meeting but also organizes sessions at the March meeting. Nick (from the DAMOP side) and Toni (from the APS side) were charged with finding out the mechanics of how this is done and reporting to the committee for further e-mail discussion. If we decide to do this, we should come up with some funds for student travel grants and invited speaker travel as we do for LS.

Amy reported that the next Newsletter will be published in late July and any items for it should be sent to her by the middle of July. There was general agreement that Amy's first Newsletter, published in January, looked very good.

Warren reported that he and Steve will speak at the upcoming AAPT meeting in Portland, with expenses split between AAPT and DLS.

There was some discussion of the statement on the APS Council's statement on climate change and the accompanying controversy.

The meeting was adjourned at 4:18 pm.