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IEEE Circuits and Systems Society Joint Chapter of the Vancouver/Victoria Sections



Theodore Harold Maiman and the History of Laser Invention




Speaker: Dr. Andrew H. Rawicz

School of Engineering Science
Simon Fraser University


Dates and Locations

Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2008, 1:30 pm to 2:30 pm

IRMACS Presentation Studio, ASB 10900 (SFU map)

Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC, Canada


Refreshment will be served after the talk.


Please click here to play the WebEx record of Dr. Rawicz's talk.

Tthe first movie about Dr. Maiman.

The second movie about Dr. Maiman.



Dr. Maiman invented the laser in May 16, 1960 and passed away on May 5, 2007 just a few days shy of 47th anniversary of laser invention. The invention and the story behind reveal like a Shakespearian drama with excellent science and political games as actors. Ted Maiman had built a compact ruby maser and began his laser research by testing ruby to learn why it emitted inefficiently as was reported by Towns, Shawlow and Gould. Instead, he found that, if properly doped with chromium, ruby emitted light quite efficiently and calculated that it would work in a laser oscillator. With his engineering and physics background he quickly designed a pulsed ruby laser using commercially available components. This laser worked in the first trial and is still, after 48 years, in operating conditions. The first laser’s original components will be shown.

In this talk my intention is to show Ted as a brilliant researcher and, most of all, as an exemplary human being. Part of Ted’s life just before the laser invention, the momentous invention, and the life in fame and drama afterwards will be illustrated with a large number of photos and two short clips at which Ted explains his laser.

Biography of Dr. Andrew Rawicz

Dr. Andrew Rawicz was educated in Poland, where he received his M.Sc in Physics, Krakow, 1973, followed in 1980 with a Ph.D. in Reliability Physics from the Faculty of Automatics and Real Time Informatics, Silesian Technical University, Gliwice. Dr. Rawicz later immigrated to Canada in 1982 after working at the Industrial Welding Institute in Gliwice for six years and as an Assistant Professor in Silesian Technical University. 

After two year work as a designer of optical equipment for eye research at the University of British Columbia he moved to the School of Engineering Science at Simon Fraser University, where, at present, he is full professor. He proposed and is championing the interdepartmental Biomedical Engineering (BME) program, which was the first in Canada undergraduate curriculums. In the 90ties he served on the SFU Senate.

 In 1986 he founded Andrew Engineering Inc. and in 1998 Applied Medical Devices Inc.  Both these companies do R&D in developing new medical equipment and/or new medical technologies.  In 1994 he co-founded OPCOM (Optical Processing and Computing Consortium of Canada) with financing totalling $20MCan and served for five years as a director and steering committee member.

He serves on boards of Medical Device Development Centre and the BC Photonics Industry Association (as one of founders). Dr. Rawicz has authored and co-authored more than 70 research papers, 3 international standards and 7 patents.


Webcast for the talk

Please click here after 1:15pm on Oct. 21, 2008 to join the WebEx-based webcast for the lecture. The password is "Laser60".

Please click here for a quick guide for WebEx (written by Prof. Jim Cavers).

If we could not establish the webcast due to network problem, we will record the lecture offline using WebEx software and post it on the website later.



Please contact Dr. Jie Liang (Email: JieL at sfu dot ca) if you have any question.