Photo of Hermann A. Haus

Hermann A. Haus

  • National Medal of Science
  • Engineering
For his fundamental and seminal research contributions to the field of quantum electronics, noise and ultra-fast optics; and for his service to the engineering profession through teaching.

As a child, Hermann A. Haus and his mother were taken from their home in the middle of the night and deported to Austria with other refugees on Dec. 17, 1945. Haus recalled meeting a chemist in his rail car who had lost a lifetime’s worth of notes. At that point, he realized that “all that you can ever take with you are the equations that you have in your head,” inspiring his love for quantum mechanics.

Haus’ research and teaching ranged from fundamental investigations of quantum uncertainty in optical communications to the practical generation of ultrashort laser pulses shorter than a billionth of a second. Ultrashort laser pulses have applications in eye surgery, medical imaging and precision clocks, as well as in ultrafast instrumentation and fiber-optic communications.

Haus and his colleagues developed transmission methods known as solitons, or solitary waves that can travel endless distances without distortion in their shape and speed. His work made possible the rapid voice and data communications of fiber-optic undersea cables linking America, Europe and Asia.

By Jen Santisi