The Bernard J. Couillaud Prize

Announcing this year's winner: Václav Hanus of HUN-REN Wigner RCP, Hungary.

Stay tuned for more about his cutting-edge research in advancing solid-state carrier-envelope phase (CEP) detection and its commercial applications.
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Learn More About the Prize


Coherent, Inc. and Optica (formerly the OSA Foundation) have partnered to create the Bernard J. Couillaud Prize. The Prize provides the opportunity for an early-career professional (1-5 years post highest degree) to pursue a compelling and innovative project that has the potential to make a meaningful and positive impact on the science and applications of ultrafast lasers.




We spoke with Dr. Vicentini regarding his research in optical diffraction tomography with femtosecond frequency combs and his plans for the future. Read the full interview and learn more about his research below.

"Frequency combs are coming as a novelty in three-dimensional imaging because frequency distance can be measured without ambiguity over very long range, but still with the precision of a fraction of the wavelength of the laser."

– Edoardo Vicentini, Postdoctroral researcher at CIC nanoGUNE

The Winners Circle

Learn more about previous winners of the Bernard J. Couillaud Prize and the research that earned them the recognition.

2022 Winner: Dr. Chiara Trovatello

Postdoctoral research scientist, Columbia University, New York, USA, Dr. Trovatello’s winning proposal focused on Optical Parametric Oscillators and Amplifiers with the goal of developing and characterizing novel low-dimensional platforms for compact nonlinear and quantum optics, based on engineered stacks of semiconducting TMDs.

An Interview with Dr. Chiara Trovatello

We spoke with Dr. Trovatello regarding her work in Optical Parametric Oscillators and Amplifiers, the prize, and some of her other accomplishments and plans. Watch the video interview, which was conducted by Marco Arrigoni of Coherent, Inc.

2021 Winner: Dr. Bowen Li

Postdoctoral researcher at the University of Colorado, Boulder, Bowen Li's winning proposal focuses on the first bidirectional all-normal dispersion (BANDi) fiber laser, a next-generation dual-comb laser source that generates two frequency combs from a single laser cavity. 

An Interview with Dr. Bowen Li

We spoke with Dr. Li regarding his exciting research, its impact on ultrafast science, and some of his future plans. Watch the video interview, which was conducted by Marco Arrigoni of Coherent, Inc.

2020 Winner: Dr. Bo Li

The 2020 Bernard J. Couillaud annual prize in ultrafast photonics was awarded to Dr. Bo Li, a postdoctoral researcher at Cornell University. Bo Li’s research focuses on Multiphoton Imaging, a key application of ultrafast laser technology. His work has the potential to improve depths and speed of imaging, both critical to advances in neuroscience and disease studies. 

An Interview with Dr. Bo Li

We spoke to Dr. Li about his research at Cornell University on the imaging of brain structures. Watch the video interview, which was conducted by Marco Arrigoni of Coherent, Inc.

2019 Winner: Dr. David R. Carlson

The 2019 Bernard J. Couillaud annual prize in ultrafast photonics was awarded to Dr. David R. Carlson of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (Time and Frequency Division) in recognition of the importance of his work on non-linear effects and photonic devices based on tantala (tantalum pentoxide, Ta2O5).

An Interview with Dr. David R. Carlson

We spoke with Dr. Carlson about how he has used the award to further his work in this field. To read the full interview and learn more about his research, click the button below.


About the Prize’s Namesake

A native of France, Bernard J. Couillaud earned his PhD in Laser Physics in 1978 at the University of Bordeaux and later completed a three-year visiting fellowship at Stanford University. Dr. Couillaud joined Coherent in 1983 and was instrumental in the development of numerous Dye, DPSS, and Ti:S lasers in his roles as Director of Engineering, Business Unit Manager, and Vice President of the Laser Group. Along the arc of this extraordinary academic and industrial career, he authored 65 publications and received numerous patents. He became President and CEO of Coherent in 1996, and served in that capacity until 2002. Dr. Couillaud was then Chairman of the Board of Directors until his retirement in 2007.

Dr. Couillaud gave more than a lifetime’s worth of dedication and achievements to physics, lasers, and photonics, and remains an inspiration to everyone that called him a friend, colleague, boss, or mentor. After his untimely death in 2017, Coherent and Optica (then OSA) partnered to create this award and honor his legacy by recognizing and financially supporting the next generation of innovators in photonics.