AO Researcher Receives Posthumous Honors for Pioneering Work



Elias Snitzer’s children, plus IEEE president Gordon Day (second from left) and Carl Zeiss Vision’s Dick Whitney (third from left) stand behind the IEEE milestone dedicated to Snitzer. (Photonics Media photo by
Melinda Rose) 
SOUTHBRIDGE, Mass.—Elias Snitzer, an American Optical (AO) researcher who is considered the father of fiber lasers and fiber amplifiers, was honored posthumously by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) at a ceremony here on Oct. 26. Officials from the IEEE unveiled a granite plaque in Snitzer’s honor across the street from the former American Optical headquarters in Southbridge, where his discoveries were made.

Snitzer’s contributions to photonics research spanned more than four decades and helped bring about the fiber optics technology on which the Internet and other communications systems operate, according to, a website covering the photonics industry. He passed away in May, 2012.

Former AO employee Dick Whitney, director of the Optical Heritage Museum and an employee of Carl Zeiss Vision’s Southbridge office, spent a year organizing the event with IEEE, which also featured presentations by science author and historian Jeff Hecht and several local officials.