The Laser Institute of America (LIA) awarded fiber-laser pioneer and  entrepreneur Dr. Valentin P. Gapontsev with the 2009 Arthur L. Schawlow Award at the 28th International Congress on Applications of Lasers and Electro-Optics (ICALEO®).valentin

Dr. Gapontsev, who holds numerous worldwide patents for laser-related devices and components, is recognized as the creator of the fiber-laser industry. He “was the first to propose new concepts of high- and super high-power fiber lasers and developed unique components and a technology platform for mass production of next-generation devices for a variety of applications,” says Bill Shiner, IPG’s Vice President of Industrial Markets.

After a distinguished academic career stretching back to the late 1960s, Dr. Gapontsev founded IPG Photonics Corp. in his native Russia in 1990. Prior to this, he had worked as a senior scientist in laser material physics and laboratory head at the Soviet Academy of Science.

Not long after starting IPG — with no business experience and almost no money — Gapontsev landed a $1 million supply contract from a large European telecom equipment manufacturer. IPG has since grown to 1,300 employees with operations in the U.S., Europe and Asia and has its shares listed on the NASDAQ Global Market.

LIA, the trusted and respected advocate of cutting-edge applications of laser technology since 1968, first presented the award in 1982 to Arthur Schawlow, who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1981. The honor recognizes individuals who have made distinguished contributions to applications of lasers in science, industry or education. The presentation consists of a silver medal, a $2,000 cash award and a citation. Recipients become lifetime Fellows and members of LIA.

ICALEO is attended by laser-industry leaders from around the world and took place Nov. 2-5 at the Hilton located in the WALT DISNEY WORLD® Resort. The four-day conference featured a plenary session unveiling the latest developments in green laser applications, a full educational track on hybrid welding and much more.