Federico Capasso

Short Bio

Federico Capasso received the doctor of Physics degree, summa cum laude, from the University of Rome, Italy, in 1973, and after doing research in fiber optics at Fondazione Bordoni in Rome, joined Bell Labs in 1976. In 1984, he was made a Distinguished Member of Technical Staff, and in 1997 a Bell Labs Fellow. In addition to his research activity Capasso has held several management positions at Bell Labs including Head of the Quantum Phenomena and Device Research Department and the Semiconductor Physics Research Department (1987–2000), and Vice President of Physical Research (2000–2002). He joined Harvard University on January 1, 2003.

He and his collaborators made many wide-ranging contributions to semiconductor devices, pioneering the design technique known as band-structure engineering. He applied it to novel low noise quantum well avalanche photodiodes, heterojunction transistors, memory devices and lasers. He and his collaborators invented and demonstrated the quantum cascade laser (QCL). Unlike conventional semiconductor lasers, known as diode lasers, which rely on the band gap of the semiconductor to emit light, the wavelength of QCLs is determined by the energy separation between conduction band quantized states in quantum wells. They have revolutionized mid-infrared photonics, as they represent the first high performance and reliable semiconductor lasers for this technologically and scientifically important spectral region. QCLs are finding widespread use in scientific and industrial applications:  high-resolution spectroscopy, chemical sensing and trace gas analysis, atmospheric chemistry, combustion and medical diagnostics. He also pioneered flat optics based on metasurfaces, including the generalized laws of refraction, and reflection and high performance metalens