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ISSNAF Lifetime Achievement Award 2023 to Prof. Federico Capasso, Harvard University

The ISSNAF Lifetime Achievement Award acknowledges outstanding individuals of Italian origin who, thanks to their pioneering spirit and lifetime commitment, have honored their country of origin and given a significant contribution to research, leadership, and mentorship in any field.

Warmest congratulations to Prof. Federico Capasso, Harvard University, the recipient of the ISSNAF Lifetime Achievement Award 2023!

Prof. Capasso is a Founding Member of ISSNAF and a member of the ISSNAF Honorary Board.

Federico Capasso holds a Doctor of Physics degree from the University of Roma, La Sapienza. He is the Robert Wallace Professor of Applied Physics at Harvard University, which he joined in 2003 after 27 years at Bell Labs where his career advanced from postdoctoral fellow to Vice President for Physical Research. He has made wide-ranging contributions to optics and photonics, nanoscience, designer materials leading to his invention of the quantum cascade laser; he pioneered metasurfaces, discovering their generalized laws of refraction and reflection, and metaoptics, such as high performance metalenses. He is a co-founder and board member of Metalenz Inc., which is focused on commercializing metaoptics for high-volume markets.

Prof. Capasso is Clarivate citation laureate for physics in 2023 which recognizes an exceptional citation record within the Web of Science™. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, the Academia Europaea, the Accademia dei Lincei, a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAAS). His awards include the Balzan Prize in Applied Photonics, the King Faisal Prize, the AAAS Rumford Prize, the IEEE Edison Medal, the American Physical Society Arthur Schawlow Prize, the Yves Medal of Optica, the Enrico Fermi Prize of the Italian Physical Society, the Matteucci Medal, the Wetherill Medal of the Franklin Institute, the Materials Research Society Medal and the Jan Czochralski Award for lifetime achievements in Materials Science. He holds honorary doctorates from Lund University, Diderot University, the University of Bologna and University of Roma, Tor Vergata.

In the conversation we had upon receiving the ISSNAF Lifetime Achievement Award, Prof. Capasso talks about his research on metamaterials, the quantum cascade laser, and how, as its creator, he had not immediately recognized the revolutionary potential of his invention. He tells us that he doesn’t believe in the traditional division between fundamental research and practical applications. He emphasizes that to make a meaningful impact, qualities such as passion, curiosity, and adaptability are just as important as intelligence.

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