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In Memoriam: Joseph Wendel Haus, 1948-2019

By Dr. Partha Banerjee, chair, Department of Electro-Optics and Photonics

Joseph Wendel Haus was born in Cleveland, Ohio, December 21, 1948. He received his B.S. and M.S. from John Carroll University in 1971 and 1972, respectively, and his Ph.D. from the Catholic University of America in 1975. His Ph.D. research was in the field of statistical mechanics. From there, he spent a year at the National Bureau of Standards as a National Research Council (NRC) post-doctoral fellow. 

Afterwards, Dr. Haus traveled to Germany and worked at the Kernforschungsanlage (Nuclear Research Center), Jülich, experimenting with neutron scattering to understand the microscopic diffusion mechanism of hydrogen into metals. This work culminated in a review article on diffusion in regular and disordered lattices and has over 1000 citations to date. He began his studies of quantum optics as a research assistant at the University of Essen and worked with Professor Roy Glauber, who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2005.  In Essen, Dr. Haus made important contributions to superfluorescence, stimulated Raman scattering phenomena and published several papers on fundamental aspects of quantum noise.

Returning to the U.S., Dr. Haus began his studies of nonlinear optical and heterogeneous systems.  After a year as NRC senior associate at the U.S. Army Missile Command (AMCOM) in Huntsville, Alabama, with Dr. Charles Bowden, he became a faculty member in physics at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in New York. At RPI, he developed an approach to calculating nonlinear optical properties in composite materials and worked with experimentalists to validate the theory and spent a year (1991-92) as the Hitachi Limited Quantum Materials Chair at the University of Tokyo Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology.

In 1999, Dr. Haus joined the University of Dayton (UD) as director of the Electro-Optics (EO) graduate program and served until 2012. EO, now the Department of Electro-Optics and Photonics (EOP), is a multidisciplinary program supported by the University of Dayton Research Institute, the Department of Physics, and the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and the Ohio Third Frontier helped to fund multiple laboratories to conduct research in nanophotonics and laser radar. A $6 million AFRL grant partially built and equipped the new Ladar and Optical Communication Institute (LOCI) and helped 30 students accomplish their graduate degrees. Dr. Haus, the director of LOCI, raised additional funds, including $1.5 million for the LOCI chair endowment (currently Dr. Mikhail Vorontsov) and $1.5 million from an IDCAST grant.

Dr. Haus’ research in nonlinear properties of optical fibers began at UD and were devoted to building and characterizing mode-locked fiber lasers and stimulated Raman scattering effects. He examined the role of solitons in shaping the pulse in a cavity and found ways to engineer the laser cavity for greater stability. With associates from Mexico, including Dr. Baldemar Ibarra Escamilla from Instituto Nacional de Astrofísica, Óptica y Electrónica (INAOE), he studied polarization effects in optical fibers and designed nonlinear mechanisms attributed to nonlinear polarization rotation effects in the cavity. He also studied photonic crystals and discovered a full band gap in a simple cubic symmetry photonic lattice that was not expected by the community. He combined his photonic crystals and nonlinear optics research and investigated second- and third-harmonic generation in multi-layer photonic crystals. These experiments, conducted at UD with Drs. Peter Powers and Perry Yaney in lithium niobate, reported a thirty-fold signal enhancement.

On sabbatical at AMCOM at the end of his directorship of EO, Dr. Haus worked with the group of Dr. Michael Scalora to develop a quantum tunneling theory for electrons in nanoscale metal systems, which was the culmination of a career of studies of heterogeneous composites. There, he continued to work on verifying the particular details of the quantum theory.

At UD, Dr. Haus, who also holds a joint appointment with the Department of Physics and is also associated with the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, collaborated with the Department of Biology professor and now department chair, Dr. Karolyn Hansen, on the use of tapered optical fibers as efficient sensors for biomolecules. With Dr. Cong Deng, electro-optics, he worked on using these sensors in the detection of cancer cells in saliva.

As LOCI director, Dr. Haus was active in research on LIDAR and digital holography with Drs. Paul McManamon, Ed Watson and Partha Banerjee. He worked extensively on metamaterials, including metallo-dielectric structures and negative index materials. He engaged actively in research with Drs. Andrew Sarangan, Qiwen Zhan, Imad Agha, Andy Chong, Jay Mathews and Chenglong Zhao, helping with theoretical and numerical modeling of experimental phenomena on quantum optics, nanophotonics, fiber lasers and silicon photonics.

During his illustrious career, Dr. Haus published two books: Fundamentals and Applications of Nanophotonics and the 2nd edition of Nonlinear Optics, originally authored by Dr. Peter Powers. He has over 150 refereed journal publications and over 150 conference proceedings publications. He graduated over 10 Ph.D. and 20 M.S. students. He worked with several companies: FMI, Utopia Compression, CSG, Applied Optimization, Quantum Screening, Aegis, etc. and received over $1 million in grants and contracts during the past ten years. He has also worked with researchers at various universities, such as State University of New York at Buffalo (Prof. Paras Prasad) and Washington University in St. Louis (Prof. Parag Banerjee). He was the founding co-chair and organizer of the International Conference of Nanophotonics, associate editor of Optics Express for six years, associate editor of the Journal of the European Optical Society, and associate editor-in-chief of Chinese Optics Letters.

His recognitions include: Fellow of OSA, SPIE and APS; senior member of IEEE; honorary doctorate from INAOE; the Affiliate Societies Council of Dayton Award; and the UD Alumni Research Award for “extensive and sustained research and pedagogical contributions to the field of optics, especially in the subjects of nanophotonics and optical fibers; for training of a generation of graduate students in the techniques of performing research; demonstrating a passion of collaboration across the University of Dayton and for developing international collaborations and scholarly activities.”

Dr. Haus is survived by his wife Jean, of 48 years, and children Alison, Michelle, Paul, Karin, Thomas and Monica. 

In Dr. Haus, one found the qualities of a true mentor, scholar and scientist. He was the epitome of humbleness, simplicity and austerity. While at conferences, Dr. Haus frequently shunned the expensive hotels and stayed in no-frills establishments, like Motel 6.

RIP, Joe, we will keep the light on for you!

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