Ali Mortimer Javan (Persian: علی جوان), born December 26, 1926 in Tehran, Iran is an Iranian inventor and physicist at MIT. He co-invented the gas laser in 1960, with William R. Bennett.Ali Javan has been ranked Number 12 on the list of the Top 100 living geniuses.
Born in Tehran to Iranian Azeri parents from Tabriz , Javan graduated from Alborz High School, started his university studies at University of Tehran and continued at Columbia University after coming to the United States in 1948. He received his Ph.D. in physics in 1954. He joined Massachusetts Institute of Technology as an associate professor of physics in 1961 and has been a professor since 1964.
- After graduation, Ali Javan became a researcher at Bell Labs, where he first proposed the principle of gas lasers, which led him to co-invent a laser composed of helium and neon.
- Worked at Massachusetts Institute of Technology as an associate professor of physics in 1961 and full professor after 1964.
- In 1975, he received the Fredric Ives Medal from the Optical Society of America
- In 1993, Ali Javan was awarded the Albert Einstein World Medal of Science.
The gas laser
The gas laser was the first continuous-light laser and the first laser to operate “on the principle of converting electrical energy to a laser light output.” By definition, “a gas laser is a laser in which an electric current is discharged through a gas to produce light.” Ali Javan received U.S. patent #3,149,290 together with William Bennett for the “Gas Optical Maser”. Ali Javan first tested his invention on December 12, 1960.
Laser beam transmission
On December 13, 1960, the first telephone conversation using laser beam transmission occurred. Ali Javan describes the moment in an interview with Betty Blair, “I put in a call to the lab. One of the team members answered and asked me to hold the line for a moment. Then I heard a voice [Mr. Balik], somewhat quivering in transmission, telling me that it was the laser light speaking to me.”
Importance of the gas laser
The gas laser laid the foundation for fiber optic communication. It is considered the most useful, practical and profitable type of laser in use today. Laser telecommunication via fiber optics is known to be the key technology used in today’s Internet. The gas laser is also used in:
- UPC code checkout scanners
- other construction, medical and monitoring technologies
In 1975, Professor Ali Javan received the most prestigious honor of Optical Society of America, the Frederic Ives Medal, with a citation that praised him for “producing an optical device (the Gas Laser) of unparalleled applicability to scientific research.” In 1993, he received the Albert Einstein World Award of Science.
- Stuart Ballantine Medal of the Franklin Institute (1964)
- Fanny and John Hertz Foundation Medal (1966)
- Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship (1966)
- Frederic Ives Medal of the Optical Society of America (1975)
- Humboldt Foundation Fellowship (1979 and 1995)
- Albert Einstein World Award of Science of the World Cultural Council (1993)
- Inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame (2006)