Stephen E. Harris

Class of 1959
Pioneer in the Science of Light
(1936- )

Stephen Harris has been recognized for his pioneering and profoundly influential contributions to the science of light. His groundbreaking research in nonlinear optics set the tone for a career of many firsts. A professor emeritus of electrical engineering and applied physics at Stanford University, Harris is known for his work in the fields of lasers, quantum electronics, nonlinear optics, and atomic physics. Examples of his early contributions include the observation of parametric down conversion, the invention of the tunable acousto-optic filter, and the demonstration of laser induced collisions. His technique for making lasers that could operate without requiring a population inversion led to the first observation of electromagnetically induced transparency and its use for nonlinear optical processes. With his successful demonstration of the slowing of the speed of light, a new field of optics was born. Harris is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2013, he was named an honorary member of the Optical Society of America, one of only 45 such members elected since the society was founded in 1916.