James Harrington Honored with SPIE Gold Medal of the Society Award

James Harrington, a distinguished professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Rutgers University, is the 2014 recipient of the SPIE Gold Medal Award in recognition of his seminal contributions to the field of specialty fiber optics and his pioneering work in the development of infrared transmissive fiber optics and their applications in laser power delivery, chemical and thermal sensing, and spectroscopy. 

Harrington’s scientific highlights include the invention of the hollow glass waveguide (HGW), created at Rutgers by Harrington and his students and one of the university’s most actively licensed technologies. HGWs are used to deliver IR laser power and as fiber links in spectroscopic and thermometric applications. He is also the inventor of the hollow sapphire and alumina waveguides, used today in certain laser surgical applications. His other research includes the development of diffusing-tip silica fibers for use in photodynamic therapy and prostate surgery; the growth of single-crystal sapphire fibers using laser heated pedestal growth; and infrared fibers for use in military CO2 laser-threat warning receivers.

“This award reflects Professor Harrington’s significant contributions to the field of optical materials for the infrared,” said Thomas N. Farris, dean of the School of Engineering. “Recognized as one of the world’s leading experts in this field, his work has significantly impacted the successful application of infrared lasers in medicine and our national defense.”

Harrington is a longtime SPIE Fellow and served as SPIE President in 2002. He has authored more than 170 articles, book chapters, and books. Harrington’s past awards include being selected as a 2005 Jefferson Science Fellow at the U.S. Department of State. He is currently treasurer for the International Commission for Optics and has served as a science advisor in the Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation, where he helped establish controls for dual-use high technology goods including lasers and detectors.

The Gold Medal of the Society is the highest honor bestowed by SPIE. Beginning in 1977, it has been awarded annually in recognition of outstanding engineering or scientific accomplishments in optics, electro-optics, or photographic technologies or applications. The recipient(s) shall have made an exceptional contribution to the advancement of relevant technology.

For more information on the 2014 SPIE Award recipients and past winners, visit SPIE online.

SPIE is the international society for optics and photonics, a not-for-profit organization founded in 1955 to advance light-based technologies. The Society serves nearly 235,000 constituents from approximately 155 countries, offering conferences, continuing education, books, journals, and a digital library in support of interdisciplinary information exchange, professional networking, and patent precedent.