MacArthur Fellows Program

MacArthur Fellows / Meet the Class of 2005

Claire Gmachl

Laser Engineer

Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering

Princeton University

Princeton, New Jersey

Age: 38 at time of award

Published September 1, 2005
Image of Claire Gmachl

Claire Gmachl is an experimental scientist working at the intersection of technology and fundamental physics in the fields of optics and semiconductor laser technology. A wizard at imagining and creating new designs for solid-state lasers, Gmachl’s pioneering work has led to critical advances in the development of Quantum Cascade (QC) lasers. QC lasers are a rapidly evolving class of high-performing, mid-infrared, semiconductor light sources. The lasers designed by Gmachl and her colleagues are noteworthy for their considerable wavelength tunability, high-power operation, high-speed modulation capabilities, and seemingly unlimited design potential. She has demonstrated the versatility and promise of mid-infrared light sources for a wide range of applications, including trace gas sensing in the environmental, industrial, and medical fields, and free-space optics in wireless communications. Her recent achievements include the development of QC microlasers and new hybrid devices, which include quantum cascade structures and nonlinear components, dramatically extending the wavelength range of QC technology. These designs have direct applications to environmental monitoring, clinical diagnoses, spectroscopy, and chemical process control. With her combination of technological flair and deep understanding of physical concepts, Claire Gmachl translates complex principles into original and practical devices that advance our understanding of optical device designs and promise to address a wide variety of engineering challenges.

Claire Gmachl received an M.S. (1991) from the University of Innsbruck and a Ph.D. (1995) from the Technical University of Vienna. She has been a member of the technical staff (1992-94) at the Technical University of Munich and an assistant professor (1995-96) at the Technical University of Vienna. The majority of her work on QC lasers was done as a member of the technical staff (1996-2003) at Lucent Technologies-Bell Laboratories. Gmachl is currently an associate professor of electrical engineering at Princeton University.


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