Cho wins American Academy of Arts and Sciences' Rumford Prize

ECE News

Mike Koon, Engineering at Illinois
12/16/2015

Story Highlights

  • Alumnus Alfred Y. Cho (PhD '68) has been named one of two recipients of the 2015 Rumford Prize in recognition of his contributions to laser technology.
  • Cho is known as the father of the molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) method for producing novel layered materials used in wireless and optical communications, lasers, and transistors.
  • Previous Rumford Prize recipients have included Thomas Edison and Enrico Fermi.

Alumnus Alfred Y. Cho (PhD '68), the "father" of the molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) method for producing novel layered materials used in wireless and optical communications, lasers, and transistors, has been named one of two recipients of the 2015 Rumford Prize in recognition of his contributions to laser technology.

Alfred Y. Cho
Alfred Y. Cho
The award, given by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, will be formally presented April 14 to Cho and fellow recipient Federico Capasso at the Academy's headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

At Bell Laboratories in 1994, Capasso and Cho invented the quantum cascade (QC) laser, a concept first proposed by Rudolf Kazarinov and Robert Suris in 1971. A revolutionary new light source, the QC laser is widely used as a source of radiation for chemical sensing and spectroscopy. Common commercial applications of QC lasers include trace gas analysis, medical diagnostics, and pollution monitoring.

Cho is the adjunct vice president of semiconductor research at Alcatel-Lucent’s Bell Labs. He is a member of several honorary societies, including the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, as well as the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, the Academia Sinica, the Third World Academy of Sciences, and a foreign member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

He has received numerous awards recognizing his contributions to science and technology, including the American Physical Society International Prize for New Materials (1982), the Solid State Science and Technology Medal of the Electrochemical Society (1987), the Gaede-Langmuir Award of the American Vacuum Society (1988), the Industrial Research Institute Achievement Award of the Industrial Research Institute, Inc. (1988), the World Materials Congress Award of ASM International (1988), the New Jersey Governor's Thomas Alva Edison Science Award (1990), the National Medal of Science (1993), the IEEE Medal of Honor (1994), the Materials Research Society Von Hippel Award (1994), the Elliott Cresson Medal of the Franklin Institute (1995), the Computer and Communications (C&C) Prize of the C&C Foundation, Japan (1995), the New Jersey Inventors Hall of Fame (1997), the Willis E. Lamb Medal for Laser Physics (2000), the National Medal of Technology and Innovation (2007), and the first international nanotechnology prize, RUSSNANO Prize, Russia (2009). He was inducted into the U.S. National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2009.

First awarded in 1839, the Rumford Prize is one of the oldest scientific prizes in the United States. The prize recognizes contributions to the fields of heat and light, broadly defined. Previous Rumford Prize recipients include Thomas Edison in 1895 for his work in electric lighting; Edwin Land in 1945 for his applications in polarized light and photography; Enrico Fermi in 1953 for his studies of radiation theory and nuclear energy, and Sidney Drell, Sam Nunn, William Perry, and George Shultz, in 2008, for their collective efforts to reduce the global threat of nuclear weapons.

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