Gérard Mourou is a French pioneer in the field of electrical engineering and lasers. Along with Donna Strickland, he co-invented a technique called chirped pulse amplification, or CPA, which was later used to create ultrashort-pulse, very high-intensity (terawatt) laser pulses. In 1994, Mourou and his team at the University of Michigan discovered that the balance between the self-focusing refraction (see Kerr effect) and self-attenuating diffraction by ionization and rarefaction of a laser beam of terawatt intensities in the atmosphere creates "filaments" which act as waveguides for the beam thus preventing divergence.
He has been the director of the Laboratoire d'Optique Appliquee at the ENSTA (Palaiseau, France) and is a professor at the École Polytechnique (Palaiseau, France). He was the founding director of the Center for Ultrafast Optical Science (CUOS) at the University of Michigan in 1990.
On the 23rd of November 2015 he attended the Third Christmas Lecture held in Bucharest. His presentation was entitled Breaking Through The Unknown: Extreme light, Science to Art. The previous lectures were given by Sir Thomas Kibble and Professor Joseph Silk.
Awards and honors
- 2016 Frederic Ives Medal/Jarus W. Quinn Prize
- 2016 Berthold Leibinger Zukunftspreis
- 2009 recipient of the Charles Hard Townes Award by the OSA
- 2005 Willis E. Lamb Award for Laser Science and Quantum Optics
- 2004 IEEE LEOS Quantum Electronics Award
- 1999 recipient of the IEEE David Sarnoff Award
- 1997 SPIE Harold E. Edgerton Award
- 1995 recipient of the R. W. Wood Prize by the OSA