Founder, chairman and chief executive officer of IPG Photonics, Dr Valentin Gapontsev, has been presented with the Laser Institute of America's (LIA) 2009 Arthur L Schawlow award. The award was presented at the LIA's International Congress on Applications of Lasers and Electro-Optics (ICALEO) conference on 4 November 2009.
Gapontsev, who holds numerous worldwide patents for laser-related devices and components, is recognised as the creator of the fibre-laser industry. According to Bill Shiner, IPG's vice president of industrial markets, he 'was the first to propose new concepts of high- and super high-power fibre lasers and developed unique components and a technology platform for mass production of next-generation devices for a variety of applications'.
After a distinguished academic career stretching back to the late 1960s, Gapontsev founded IPG Photonics in his native Russia in 1990. Prior to this, he had worked as a senior scientist in laser material physics and laboratory head at the Soviet Academy of Science. Not long after starting IPG, Gapontsev landed a $1m supply contract from a large European telecom equipment manufacturer. IPG has since grown to 1,300 employees with operations in the US, Europe and Asia.
The Schawlow award, which was first presented by the LIA in 1982, honours individuals who have made distinguished contributions to applications of lasers in science, industry, education or medicine. The award is named after Professor Arthur Schawlow, who received The Nobel Prize in Physics in 1981 for his contribution to the development of laser spectroscopy, and is the LIA's highest achievement award.