Skip to content Skip to navigation

Arthur Schawlow

Arthur Schawlow

Deceased Faculty
May 5 1921 to Apr 28 1999


Past research involved applying laser and other spectroscopic techniques to a wide range of problems in basic physics. In recent years these have included methods of simplifying complex atomic or molecular spectra by using a laser to label one chosen lower level, which is periodically depleted or oriented. Sensitive (non-laser) spectroscopy has been used to detect rare earth ions in single atomic layers and in metals. Recently investigated factors affecting tunability of semi-conductor diode lasers, and the uses of these lasers for spectroscopy.


  • J.G. Jackson and C.J. Wood Professor of Physics
  • B.A., 1941, M.A., 1942,
  • Ph.D., 1949, University of Toronto
  • Co-inventor, with Charles H. Townes, of the laser, 1958
  • Postdoctoral Fellow and Research Associate, Columbia University, 1949-51
  • Research Physicist, Bell Telephone Laboratories, 1951-61
  • Stuart Ballantine Medal, 1962
  • Frederick Ives Medal
  • Golden Plate Award
  • Richtmyer Memorial Prize Lecturer
  • Fellow of the American Physical Society, 1966
  • Fellow of the Optical Society of America, 1966
  • Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
  • Fellow of the American Association of the Advancement of Science
  • Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
  • Fellow of the American Philosophical Society
  • Fellow of the Institute of Physics (Great Britian)
  • California Scientist of the Year, 1973
  • 1981 Nobel Prize in Physics for his contribution to the development of laser spectroscopy
  • U.S. National Medal of Science
  • Honorary degrees from Belgium, Canada, England, Ireland, Sweden, and U.S.
  • President of the Optical Society of America, 1975
  • President of the American Physical Society, 1981
  • Inductee in the Inventor's Hall of Fame, 1996