May 9, 2007, Vancouver, BC, Canada--May 16, 2007, marks the 47th anniversary of the invention of the first working laser. Good friends of its inventor, Theodore (Ted) H. Maiman, plan to gather on that day at Simon Fraser University (SFU; Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada) to celebrate the life and accomplishments of Maiman, who died of a very rare genetic blood disorder on Saturday, May 5, after a lengthy stay in a Vancouver hospital and just two months prior to what would have been his 80th birthday.
Andrew Rawicz, a professor in the School of Engineering Science at SFU, emphasized that the gathering will not be a memorial service, but a celebration. "People like that never really die," he said. "They live on with us through their accomplishments." The May 16th tribute will also mark a first step in establishing a commemorative archive and scholarship funds for Maiman at SFU, where Maiman received one of his many honorary degrees and also served as an adjunct professor in the school of engineering, where he played a key role in establishing a program in biomedical engineering and biophotonics.
Maiman was born in 1927 and learned electronics from his father, Abe, an electrical engineer for the American Telephone & Telegraph Corporation (AT&T). He began his academic studies at the University of Colorado and earned a B.S. degree in engineering physics in 1949. Two years later he attended Stanford University and obtained a master's degree in electrical engineering followed by a doctorate in physics in 1955. At Stanford, Maiman studied under the theoretician Willis Lamb, who received the Nobel Prize in physics in 1955, months after Maiman received his doctorate.
In 1960 Maiman invented the first functioning laser while working at Hughes Aircraft Company. Hughes's managers had previously assigned Maiman to build a more practical version of the maser using microwave emission from chromium atoms in synthetic ruby crystals. Maiman created a new maser design that eliminated the external magnets in favor of a magnet inside the Dewar, thereby reducing the weight from 5,000 to 25 pounds. In 1962 Maiman established his own enterprise, Korad Corporation, which undertook the development and manufacture of lasers. In 1968, after selling the company to Union Carbide Corporation, Maiman founded Maiman Associates. From 1976 to 1983, Maiman served as vice president of advanced technology at TRW (now Northrop Grumman), where this photo was taken in 1985 to mark the 25th anniversary of his invention of the first working laser. He was most recently a director of Control Laser Corporation and a member of the advisory board of Industrial Research Magazine.
Maiman is the author of the basic patent on the ruby laser and a number of patents on masers, lasers, laser displays, optical scanning, and modulation. He was twice nominated for the Nobel Prize and was given membership in both National Academies of Science and Engineers. He was also a recipient of 1983/1984 Physics Prize, the same year he was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. Three years later he became laureate of the prestigious Japan Prize, the Asian equivalent of the Nobel Prize. He was a Fellow of the American Physical Society, the Optical Society of America, and the Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers.
Plans are currently to establish a Maiman Foundation for the archive at SFU, as well as two scholarship funds: an Abe & Ted Maiman Scholarship related to the application of lasers in medicine, and a Sherri Maiman Scholarship in psychology, named for Maiman's daughter who died prior to completing a PhD in psychology. Maiman is survived by his wife, Kathleen, as well as other relatives and nephews in Denver, CO, and Los Angeles, CA. Cards and condolences, which will be included in the Maiman Archive, should be sent to the School of Engineering Science, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia, V5A1S6, Canada, Attention: Andrew Rawicz. For more information on evolving plans for the Maiman Foundation and scholarship funds, contact Andrew Rawicz at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wed May 09 09:19:00 CDT 2007