Yariv, Amnon (Electrical Engineer, Applied Physicist)
- Existence: 1930 - 2222
Background: Caltech Professor of Electrical Engineering and Applied Physics, 1974-present; Professor of Electrical Engineering, 1964-74.
Biographical/Historical Description: Amnon Yariv was born in 1930 in Tel Aviv, Israel, to parents who had immigrated from Poland in the 1920s. Upon graduation from high school in 1948 he saw active duty in the Israeli artillery in the first Arab-Israeli war (beginning May 1948). Although he had intended to begin his study of electrical engineering at the Technion in Haifa, he decided to study in the US and received a tuition-free year at San Mateo Junior College, then transfered to Berkeley with a scholarship. He received his B.S. in 1954, his M.S. in 1956, and his PhD under J. Whinnery in 1958 with a thesis on the maser, the forerunner of the laser. He then took a position at Bell Labs (1959) to help develop the optical maser, later called the laser. Through contact with R. Gould, Yariv was offered a position at Caltech in 1964 in the electrical engineering department. He continued to do research in semiconductor lasers and began to teach laser physics, then new to Caltech. A secondary research interest became nonlinear optics. Yariv also participated in the development of the applied physics program at Caltech.
Biographical/Historical Collection Notes: Oral history, 1999: In this 79-page interview with Shirley K. Cohen, Yariv recalls his youth and early education in Palestine/Israel; his participation in the first Arab-Israeli war (1948); his undergraduate and graduate study in electrical engineering at Berkeley (1951-1958). He recounts the early stages of his career in the pioneering days of the laser at Bell Labs (1959-1963), then eventual move into academe at Caltech (1964). Discusses work at Caltech: building lab for semiconductor laser research in electrical engineering department, teaching laser physics; the establishment of Caltech's applied physics program. Discusses field of optical communcations and its applications; companies founded by his students.
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