Professor Malvin Teich Elected SPIE Fellow

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Professor Malvin C. Teich (ECE)
Professor Malvin C. Teich (ECE)

SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, has elected Professor Malvin C. Teich (ECE) to the rank of Fellow. SPIE Fellows are distinguished members who have made significant scientific, technical and community contributions in the multidisciplinary fields of optics, photonics and imaging.

“I am delighted to be selected for this honor,” said Teich, who was chosen for his achievements in the generation, characterization and detection of light—both classical (explainable in terms of classical electromagnetism) and non-classical (possessing properties that can be understood only in terms of quantum optics). He is one of 67 Fellows inducted by the Society this year.

A Boston University faculty member since 1995, Teich is most widely known for his research in photonics, quantum optics, and information transmission and processing in biological sensory systems. In a career spanning five decades, he has carried out extensive experimental and theoretical research, using advanced techniques to characterize different sources of light and the performance of optical systems using these sources.

A number of his experiments have revealed previously unknown phenomena, from observing that individual sensory cells in the cochlea vibrate spontaneously in the absence of acoustic signals, to demonstrating that, under certain conditions, a single photon at the human retina can be perceived. His conception of luminescence light in terms of clustered photon emissions—and how to reduce noise from this source—was incorporated in the Galileo spacecraft’s star-scanner guidance system, and led to a new class of ultralow-noise photodetectors suitable for use in lightwave communication systems.

His current research continues to spark innovations in photonics and quantum optics and deepen our understanding of biological sensory systems.

For example, in photonics, he is working on how to characterize slowly varying noise in photon streams and photodetectors; in quantum optics, he is advancing imaging systems that make use of entangled photons and exploring the relative merits of using non-classical vs. classical light; and in biological sensory systems, he is investigating how acoustical and optical stimuli are encoded at various locations in the auditory and visual systems and how the fractal behavior of the electrocardiogram is modified by heart disease.

Teich is a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the Optical Society of America, the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Acoustical Society of America. His many awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1973, the Morris E. Leeds Award in 1997 and a College of Engineering Distinguished Scholar Award in 2009. Teich holds six patents and is the coauthor of two books and the author or coauthor of about 350 refereed journal articles/book chapters and 550 conference presentations/lectures.

-Mark Dwortzan