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Interview with Amnon Yariv

Yariv, Amnon (2003) Interview with Amnon Yariv. [Oral History]

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Interview in three sessions in November and December 1999 with Amnon Yariv, Martin and Eileen Summerfield Professor of Applied Physics and Electrical Engineering in the Division of Engineering and Applied Science. Dr. Yariv received his BS (1954), MS (1956), and PhD (1958) from UC Berkeley. He recalls his childhood in Tel Aviv in the British Mandate of Palestine, his parents' Polish background, and his early education, which included military training. In 1948, British occupation ends; he participates in the Israeli-Arab conflict; in 1950, leaves Israeli Army to attend the Technion, a technical university in Haifa. Emigrates to U.S. in 1951; matriculates at San Mateo Junior College; transfers to Berkeley, studies electrical engineering (control theory); switches to radio engineering, under John Whinnery, for MS; enters new field of masers for PhD. In 1959, joins group at Bell Labs under James P. Gordon working on making the first laser. Visits T. H. Maiman at Hughes Research Laboratories after Maiman produces first laser using another approach. Leaves Bell Labs to work on lasers for Watkins-Johnson. Joins Caltech September 1964 as associate professor of electrical engineering; sets up laboratory on semiconductor lasers and another on nonlinear optics. Contacts with Roy Gould; laser work of Nicholas George. Teaches course in solid-state physics and one in laser physics called Quantum Electronics. Publishes Quantum Electronics in 1967, first text in the field. Starts applied physics program in 1970, which includes Professors Thomas C. McGill, Roy Gould, Marc-Aurele Nicolet, William B. Bridges, Ahmed Zewail, William A. Goddard, Kerry Vahala, Harry Atwater, Paul Bellan, Noel Corngold, and Axel Scherer. In late 1970s, invited by Tel Aviv University to join Sackler Institute of Advanced Studies. 1967 paper proposes optoelectronic integrated circuits using gallium arsenide crystals. Discusses ideas of Charles Kao on enabling fiberoptics with laser light; pioneer work at Corning on fiberoptics; work of his graduate student Kam Lau on modulation speeds; history of optical communication field. Starts fiberoptics company Ortel. Discussion of the science of nonlinear optics and phase conjugate optics. Consultant for Arroyo Optics. Collaboration with Scherer on micro-optics; air force grant to study artificial periodic optical materials (photonic band-gap materials). Discussion of companies started by his former students. Concludes by commenting on his service in 1980s on committee formed to restructure LIGO and on his frequent visits to Japan and collaboration with Hitachi Labs.

Item Type:Oral History
Keywords:Applied physics, electrical engineering
Record Number:CaltechOH:OH_Yariv_A
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Yariv, Amnon. Interview by Shirley K. Cohen. Pasadena, California, November-December 1999. Oral History Project, California Institute of Technology Archives. Retrieved [supply date of retrieval] from the World Wide Web:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
Subjects:Subjects > Physics
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Subjects > Engineering
ID Code:158
Deposited By: Oral Histories Administrator
Deposited On:22 Aug 2008
Last Modified:04 Oct 2019 15:23

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