Willis E. Lamb awards go to Stone, Cao

The Winter Colloquium on the Physics of Quantum Electronics, held in Snowbird, Utah, honored a pair of Yale faculty members for their work in laser optics.

Hui Cao and A. Douglas Stone

A. Douglas Stone, the Carl A. Morse Professor and chair of applied physics, and a professor of physics, and Hui Cao, professor of applied physics and of physics, received Willis E. Lamb awards for laser science and quantum optics, at the conference. The awards presentation was held Jan 7.

Named for Nobel Prize-winning physicist and former Yale faculty member Willis E. Lamb, the awards honor outstanding contributions in the field of laser science and quantum optics. Lamb, who died in 2008, was a Yale faculty member from 1962 until 1974.

“As a student, I learned what the laser is and how it works from Lamb’s book and papers,” Cao said. “After I moved to Yale, I heard Lamb was a physics professor here. I was fortunate to meet him a number of years ago when he visited Yale.”

Cao’s work looks at controlling quantum optical processes in nanostructures, harnessing complex light structures, and understanding the physical mechanism for color production in the natural world.

Stone, a theoretical physicist, holds four patents for optical devices and has written more than 130 research and review articles. He is the author of the 2013 book “Einstein and the Quantum: The Quest of the Valiant Swabian,” published by Princeton University Press.

“As someone who began studying lasers relatively late in my career — who, in fact, started by reading papers by Willis Lamb among others — it is an enormous honor to be recognized as making a significant contribution to this field,” Stone said. “I am also delighted to share the award with my close collaborator, Hui Cao, who is a pioneer in this area.”

Cao and Stone took the opportunity to thank current and former students and postdoctoral researchers who aided in their research.

“The award ceremony was meaningful because it was specifically organized so we would speak to Ph.D. students and early career scientists about how we got interested in science and how we picked the problems we did to investigate, and it gave us a chance to recognize the younger group members who make the research possible,” Stone said.