Miguel A. Alonso: The 2023 SPIE G.G. Stokes Award in Optical Polarization
Miguel A. Alonso is a professor at École Central de Marseille and the Institut Fresnel, as well as a professor of optics at the University of Rochester and senior scientist in the Laboratory for Laser Energentics. Alonso researches mathematical aspects of wave propagation, in particular the description and applications of beams with structured intensity and polarization distributions, optical coherence and the connection between the ray and wave models of light. Over the past two decades, he has established himself as one of the leading theorists in the modern approach to polarization, including light beams with structured polarization profiles, polarization of nonparaxial and tightly focused beams, and the relation to optical angular momentum and geometric phases.
Alonso has made seminal contributions to the field of polarization: he developed simple and intuitive descriptions for various types of optical beams, classification of polarization by means of geometric surfaces beyond the Poincaré sphere, accounting for concepts such as the geometric phase and its multiple incarnations in optics. He also developed new techniques for measuring nanostructures based on analogies with quantum formalism, microscopic position detection and 3D orientation of fluorophores, and new forms of displacement interferometry.
“Professor Alonso has a remarkable record of publication, of international collaboration and ambassadorship, and of mentoring both students and colleagues,” says Thomas Brown, director of the Institute of Optics at the University of Rochester. “He is also one of the best intellectual ambassadors we have; he not only reaches across international boundaries with his collaborations and teaching; he can sometimes bridge nearly impassible intellectual chasms between researchers with diverse opinions about optical phenomena. One of the best examples of this has been his patient mathematical work in understanding and describing nonparaxial polarizations — such as appear in tightly focused fields — in which such basic concepts as the degree of polarization are not clearly defined mathematically and have therefore historically caused some consternation among colleagues. His diplomatic talks, in which he explains each approach, and its rationale while emphasizing its usefulness in a certain arena, are designed to bring colleagues together and build an international community.”