The Winter Colloquium on the Physics of Quantum Electronics, known as “PQE”, is an annual physics conference that attracts the world's experts in laser physics, quantum physics, and many other areas. The meeting is now in its 45th year and is held annually in early January in Snowbird, UT.
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The inventions of the maser and laser in the late 1950s and 1960 brought a flood of new developments in the area that came to be known as Quantum Electronics. By the late 1960s there was still much to be learned, but very few formal courses. In the summers of 1966 and 1967, David Edwards of Colorado State University organized summer meetings under the name “Physics of Quantum Electronics.” It was here that Steve Jacobs of the University of Arizona and Marlan Scully, then at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, met and formulated the idea for continuing the PQE meetings.
Marlan Scully and Steve Jacobs went on to organize a series of 2-week summer schools, which evolved into advanced workshops and technical progress reports. With the blessing of Dave Edwards, they continued to use the name Physics of Quantum Electronics. Much of this history was provided by Steve Jacobs. Prof. Jacobs maintains a nice set of photographs from early PQE meetings on his web site.
Below is a list of all the meetings and workshops under the masthead of PQE.
• PQE Winter Colloquia The Winter Colloquia on the Physics of Quantum Electronics (PQE) have continued annually for over 40 years.
• Other meetings Below is a list all the other meetings including recent summer workshops and those in the early days of PQE.
Winter Colloquia on the Physics of Quantum Electronics
Historically, there have been many meetings under the masthead of PQE. However, it is the Winter Colloquium that has the largest number of attendees, and although there are still occaisional summer meetings, only the Winter Colloquium continues each and every year.
The Winter Colloquium is now held each year at the Snowbird ski resort near Salt Lake City, Utah, in the United States. However, the original meetings were at other places. The table below shows the locations of the meetings.
Please refer to the main PQE web site for information on the next meeting.
Financing the first few meetings went through several stages. In the early years, the two-week summer school registration fees could be justified by private industry, government, and universities. Eventually, formal courses supplanted the need for special summer schools, and PQE commenced instead to run topical meetings and workshops funded by government contracts.
The first such contract was to obtain consulting for the Air Force Weapons Lab (AFWL) in New Mexico. AFWL found that their consultants much preferred skiing locations to Kirtland Air Force Base, and the Winter Colloquium on the Physics of Quantum Electronics was born. These meetings have been held in the winter near down-hill ski areas since 1971.
Originally funding was arranged through an existing research contract with the University of Arizona's Optical Sciences Center (OSC.) After the 5-year AFWL contract ended, several other government contracts supported the winter meeting. Since 1978, the meetings have been supported only by registration fees paid by the atendees.
Steve Jacobs ended his involvement around 1995, but Marlan Scully has continued his role as scientific organizer from the beginning. In 1992, George Welch joined the faculty of Texas A&M University, met Marlan for the first time, and started attending the Winter Colloquium regularly. In 2000, George began to help with the organization of the meeting. He is now point-man for contacting the speakers and session organizers, arranges the sessions and technical program, and coordinates the local logistics at the meeting.
There is an interesting anecdote concerning the early Winter Colloquia. After the initial 5-year AFWL contract ended, several other government contracts supported the winter meeting, each with a special consulting motivation. Such contracts came to an end when the appearance of impropriety brought this “ski resort boondoggle” to the attention of Senator Proxmire’s committee. After close examination, the “Golden Fleece Award” was not made to PQE, but this ended the prospect for government funding. This almost put an end to the winter meetings, but it was agreed that the combination of high level technical exchange, contract hunting, and fun was worthwhile and might be supportable through individual registration fees. This system has indeed proven successful, and has continued from 1977 to the present.
The organizers of PQE sincerely believe the technical content of this conference is second to none, and that the amount of work done during the meetings — typically 200 talks in four days, meeting for nearly 9 hours per day — dispels any conceivable notion that this meeting is merely a ski trip. Proxmire, eat your heart out.
Other PQE meetings
In addition to the Winter Colloquia, there have been many other meetings:
Original PQE summer meetings
The first two PQE summer meetings were organized by Dave Edwards of Colorado state university.
Readers with any information about these meetings such as
location, dates, pictures, etc., are cordially asked to contact
PQE Two-Week Summer Tutorial
After the first two summer meetings organized by David Edwards, Marlan Scully and Steve Jacobs continued organizing these meetings.
PQE Special Workshops
PQE Summer Workshops
After the first decade or so of PQE special meetings, only the Winter Colloquium continued, and there were no more summer activites. In the 1990s, Summer Workshops again commenced under the guidance of Marlan Scully. These meetings were in much the same style of the Winter Colloquia, but were generally much smaller, more focussed, and less formal.
PQE published technical reports, proceedings, and books until 1984, but none were published after that until 2001. Since 2001, the Journal of Modern Optics has dedicated a special issue to papers originating from this conference.
JMO has been very supportive in this, and we greatly appreciate their efforts. Taylor and Francis, the publisher of JMO, has worked very hard to cut time to publication. We encourage optical scientists to consider JMO for publication of their high quality results.
PQE Main Page