University of Rochester

Dennis G. Hall Named William F. May Professor

March 19, 1996

Dennis G. Hall, professor and director of The Institute of Optics at the University of Rochester, has been named to an endowed chair, the William F. May Professorship in Engineering and Applied Sciences.

Hall is known around the world for his theoretical and experimental investigations of optical effects that occur near the surface of or within thin metal films, semiconductors, and optical waveguides. Major themes in his research include exploring structures and mechanisms that would enable crystalline silicon, the material on which the microelectronics industry is based, to be employed in the emerging field of optoelectronics; revealing the rich optical characteristics of molecules and similar resonant systems near layered surfaces; and establishing a quantitative understanding of a variety of optical waveguide phenomena. Hall and his students recently led an effort that successfully demonstrated a novel surface-emitting semiconductor laser based on a surface diffraction grating made in the form of a set of concentric circles. This and related work from Hall's group have been cited in a number of periodicals detailing the year's top developments in optics and physics.

An accomplished educator, Hall has contributed broadly to both undergraduate and graduate education in the institute since joining the faculty in 1980. Students have often praised Hall's effectiveness in the classroom. The University's Undergraduate Engineering Council, a student organization, has twice honored him with its teaching award; in his last outing in a graduate course, the class rated him the perfect instructor. Outside the classroom, Hall has supervised to completion fourteen Ph.D. theses, six M.S. theses, and several undergraduate research projects, and served for five years as the chair of the institute's graduate committee. He has also worked energetically to raise funds for graduate education; since 1990, Hall has won nearly $2 million dollars in grants from the U.S. Department of Education to attract and support graduate students in optics and optoelectronics.

Hall was named a fellow of the Optical Society of America (OSA) and the International Society for Optical Engineering (SPIE) in 1987 and 1984, respectively, and in November 1995 he was named a fellow of the American Physical Society (APS). He has written more than 100 journal articles and several book chapters, is a topical editor of the Journal of the Optical Society of America, and has edited an SPIE Milestones volume titled Coupled Mode Theory in Guided-Wave Optics. He has also served on the OSA board of directors, the technical review board for the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, and the executive committee of the National Nanofabrication Facility at Cornell University.

"Dennis is outstanding in all areas," says Duncan Moore, dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. "He has an illustrious career as a researcher, and he is recognized by students as an excellent teacher, all accomplished while taking an active role in leading the optics community."

Hall joined the Rochester faculty in 1980 after two years with McDonnell Douglas Corporation and two previous years as an assistant professor of physics at Southern Illinois University. He earned his bachelor's degree from the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign), his master's degree from Southern Illinois University (Edwardsville), and his Ph.D. degree from the University of Tennessee (Knoxville), all in physics. His Ph.D. thesis research in theoretical solid state physics was conducted at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. He has been director of The Institute of Optics since July 1993.

The professorship honors William F. May, a member of the University's Board of Trustees and former chairman and chief executive officer of the American Can Company. May graduated from the University in 1937 with a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering and membership in Phi Beta Kappa.