Board Members


Dr. C. Kumar N. Patel

President and CEO
Member, National Academy of Engineering, National Academy of Sciences United States


C. Kumar N. Patel is the Founder, President and CEO, of Pranalytica Incorporated, a Santa Monica based company that is commercializing very high performance quantum cascade lasers for a variety of defense and homeland security applications, and highly sensitive and selective trace gas sensors for commercial, homeland security and defense markets. Simultaneously, he is professor of physics, chemistry, and electrical engineering at University of California, Los Angeles.

From 1993 to 1999 he was the Vice Chancellor for Research at UCLA. Prior to his joining UCLA in March 1993, he was the Executive Director, Research, Materials Science, Engineering and Academic Affairs Division at AT&T Bell Laboratories, Murray Hill, New Jersey. He joined Bell Laboratories in 1961 where he began his career by carrying out research in the field of gas lasers. He has made numerous seminal contributions in several fields, including gas lasers, nonlinear optics, molecular spectroscopy, pollution detection, and laser surgery.

Dr. Patel is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering. He is a Foreign Fellow of the Indian National Science Academy and The Institution of Electronics and Telecommunication Engineers (INDIA). He is an Associate Fellow of the Third World Academy of Sciences. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, the American Physical Society, the Optical Society of America, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Association for Advancement of Arts and Sciences, and the Laser Institute of America. In 1980 Dr. Patel was elected an Honorary Member of the Gynecologic Laser Surgery Society, and in 1985 he was elected an Honorary Member of the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery. In 1994 he was elected an honorary fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences.

For his discovery of the laser action on the vibrational-rotational transitions of molecules, for his invention of the high power carbon dioxide lasers, for his nonlinear optical studies leading to the invention of the spin flip Raman lasers and for molecular spectroscopy and pollution detection studies, Dr. Patel has received numerous honors. These include the Optical Society of America's Adolph Lomb Medal (1966); the Franklin Institute's Stuart Ballantine Medal (1968); Coblentz Society's (of the American Chemical Society) Coblentz Prize (1974); the Association of Indians in America's Honor Award (1975); the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineer's Lamme Medal (1976); National Academy of Engineering's Zworykin Award (1976); Texas Instrument Foundation's Founders Prize (1978); the Optical Society of America's Townes Medal (1982); the Society of Applied Spectroscopy's N. Y. Section Award (1982); the Schawlow Award of the Laser Institute of America (1984); the New Jersey Governor's Thomas Alva Edison Science Award (1987); the George E. Pake Prize of the American Physical Society (1988); the Technical Excellence Award from the American Society of Engineers from India (ASEI), 1988; the Medal of Honor of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (1989); the Frederic Ives Medal of the Optical Society of America (1989); the William T. Ennor Manufacturing Technology Award of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (1995); Life Time Achievement Award of the Defense & Security Symposium of the SPIE (2006) and the IPPA Prize of The International Photoacoustic & Photothermal Association (2007). In 2012, Dr. Patel was inducted into the United States National Inventors Hall of Fame and in 2013 he was elected a Charter Member of the National Academy of Inventors.

In July 1996, he received the National Medal of Science from the President of the United States of America.

Dr. Patel has been nominated for the Nobel Prize several times (as quoted from the introduction to Dr. Patel given by Dr. Linda Katehi, Chancellor of the University of California atDavis): http://www.v2load.com/videos/4HlbieDQK-Y/ or http://www.v2load.com/videos/4HlbieDQKY/

Dr. Patel has served on the NAS Council (1988-1991), its Executive Committee (1990- 1991), and the NRC Governing Board (1990-1991). He has served the American Physical Society as a member of the Council (1987-1991) and the Executive Committee (1987-1990). Dr. Patel is the past President of the American Physical Society (1995). He is also the past President of Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society (1993-1995). He co-chaired (with N. Bloembergen) the American Physical Society Study of the Science and Technology of Directed Energy Weapons.

Dr. Patel's scientific and technical accomplishments cover a very broad spectrum, and have had a major impact on science, technology, and the society. In 1963 he discovered the laser action on the vibrational-rotational transitions of carbon dioxide. This discovery and his invention of efficient vibrational energy transfer between molecules, in 1964, led to his series of experiments which demonstrated that the carbon dioxide laser was capable of very high cw and pulsed power output at very high conversion efficiencies. The carbon dioxide lasers have now become workhorses in at least four major fields of applications of lasers. These are:


1. Industrial applications which include cutting, drilling, and welding;

2. Scientific applications which include spectroscopy, nonlinear optics, and optical pumping to create newer lasers such as far infrared lasers and x-ray lasers;

3. Medical applications which include laser surgery in the areas of otolaryngology, gynecology, tumor removal, and general surgery; and

4. Practical applications which, among others, include pollution detection, sensing of trace gases of importance in commercial and environmental arena, detection of chemical warfare agents of importance in homeland security and defense applications, ranging and Doppler radar, as well as a multitude of other military uses.

No other laser has made a greater impact on the society than the carbon dioxide laser. His discovery of laser action on vibrational-rotational transitions of molecules has directly led to many other infrared high power laser systems.

In 1966, Dr. Patel carried out the first infrared nonlinear optics experiments by discovering the second harmonic generation in tellurium. These pioneering studies created new field of infrared nonlinear optics. In 1967, Dr. Patel and his colleagues discovered an entirely new mechanism for nonlinear interactions - the third order nonlinearities of free electrons. In 1969, he invented the spin-flip Raman lasers which are a class of tunable infrared lasers. This was the first tunable Raman laser in any wavelength region. Using the tunable spin-flip Raman lasers Dr. Patel carried out very high resolution spectroscopy of both ground as well as vibrationally excited states of molecular gases. A direct outgrowth of these studies is his unique contribution to the problem of pollution detection. In 1970, he developed a tunable laser opto-acoustic measurement technique for detection of extremely small concentrations (1 part in trillion at atmospheric pressure) of pollutant gases. The opto-acoustic detection technique, also some times called the photo-acoustic technique, is now a standard method for measuring very small absorptions in gases. In 1973, he carried out the first measurements of the temporal variation of concentration of nitric oxide in the stratosphere. These measurements provided crucial data that bear on the problem of ozone depletion by man-made nitrogen oxide emission from sources such as the SST. Dr. Patel and his colleagues have carried out elegant laser-based measurements of Lamb Shift in heavy hydrogenic atoms; these measurements provide some of the most stringent tests of QED calculations.

In the last few years, Dr. Patel has invented and perfected an opto-acoustic detection technique that has now been shown to be capable of measuring very small optical absorptions in liquids, solids, thin films, and powders. Of special interest is the application of this technique to measurements of submonolayers of adsorbed molecules on technologically important materials such as silicon. In 1980, he started opto-acoustic spectroscopy studies of cryogenic liquids and solids. These studies have provided crucial data of scientific interest of understanding these materials and for practical applications to the spectroscopic studies of the atmospheres of outer giant planets. These studies culminated in the first observations of high vibrational overtone absorption of molecular hydrogen in solid hydrogen.

Dr. Patel's current research interests include spectroscopy of highly transparent liquids and solids, and surgical and medical applications of carbon dioxide lasers. Most recently, Dr. patel and his colleagues have provided the first complete analysis of performance evaluation practical chemical and biological warfare agent sensors that may be needed for safeguarding general population as well military personnel.

Dr. Patel has published over 240 papers in technical journal and has been granted nearly 50 patents for his work in the area of lasers and high sensitivity detection.

Dr. Patel was among the first in academia to recognize and enunciate the impact of the disappearance of the Cold War and the demise of the Soviet Union on higher education in general and research universities in particular. To create a broad based consensus on the needs to change the research universities, in June 1994, he organized the first national conference on the topic of Reinventing the Research University. This conference attracted presidents and chancellors of research universities, CEOs of industrial organizations, and heads of various federal government agencies. The conference was supported by the AT&T Foundation and Sloan Foundation, who recognized the importance of the issues. Conference proceedings, edited by Dr. Patel, have been widely quoted. The conference recommendations have become starting points for a number of subsequent conferences and workshops. Dr. Patel's ideas, around which the conference was organized, have had a significant impact on the role of industry, government, and the process of academic research and higher education.

Dr. Patel has made significant contributions to a number of professional organizations. Among these are his election to the presidency of the American Physical Society, which comprises of more than 42,000 physicists all over he world, and his election to the presidency of the Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society, whose membership includes more than 92,000 scientists covering all of the scientific disciplines. In both of these elected positions. Dr. Patel provided new ideas to make science in general and physics in particular more relevant to the broadly based constituencies which determine the future of science in the U.S.

Dr. Patel's dual experiences, industry and academia, have uniquely qualified him to be a desirable spokesman for both academic and industrial research related issues. He is frequently invited to testify in the U.S. Congress to provide testimony in support of academic, industrial, and government laboratory based research.

At UCLA, Dr. Patel recognized the importance of building close working relationships between government, industry, and academia. Unlike the past relationships, he constructed relationships between these three to be real partners in the educational and research missions of the university. He emphasized and defined the role of a research university in the job and wealth creation activities of the community in which the university is located. He was among the first to recognize the importance of coupling the university with small-to-medium size companies. Traditionally, it is the small-to-medium size companies who are the principal vehicles for creation of new high technology jobs, and this is the very segment that had been long neglected by many research universities. Dr. Patel's activities in this area culminated into one of the first conferences, organized at UCLA, on promoting the Industrial Competitiveness Network that brought together small-to-medium size companies and academic individuals. This gathering delineated the role of a research university in interfacing with small-to-medium size companies to identify and act on the needs of this segment of economy. Outcomes from this conference included building partnerships between research universities, small-to-medium size companies, and regional and local government agencies.

Dr. Patel's focus on the industry-university partnership at UCLA has completely revolutionized the way in which a university looks towards the industry. A very tangible outcome has been the significant increase in the research relationships between industries and UCLA with a concomitant increase by fifty percent in the industrial research funding at UCLA in less than two years.

In 2000, Dr. Patel founded an industrial, medical and scientific instrumentation company, Pranalytica, in Santa Monica, CA. Pranalytica is deeply involved in research, development and manufacture of next generation of highly sensitive and selective sensors for chemical warfare agents. In addition, Pranalytica has become the premier supplier of high performance quantum cascade lasers, which are enablers of the directional infrared countermeasures for protecting aircraft from shoulder fired missiles and of the mid wave and long wave infrared target illuminators and IFF beacons.

During his tenure at Bell Laboratories he became head of the Infrared Physics and Electronics Research Department in 1967 and in 1970 he assumed the position of the Director of the Electronics Research Laboratory. In 1976 he became Director of the Physical Research Laboratory. In 1981 he became Executive Director, Research, Physics and Academic Affairs Division, and he became Executive Director of Research, Materials Science, Engineering, and Academic Affairs Division in 1987. From March 1993 to December 1999, he was the Vice Chancellor for Research at UCLA. He assumed the present position at UCLA in January 2000.

He has served as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Aerospace Corporation, El Segundo, California from 1979 to 1988. In January 1986, he was elected to the Board of Directors of the Newport Corporation, Fountain Valley, California, and still serves on the Board of Newport Corporation. He was on the Board of Directors of the California Micro Devices, Milpitas, California from 1990 to 1996. From 1994 to 1998 he was a Director of the Accuwave Corporation, Santa Monica, California and its Chairman of the Board from 1996 to 1998.

Son of a Civil Engineer in India, Dr. Patel received his B.E. in Telecommunications from the College of Engineering in Poona, India. He received his M.S. and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University in 1959 and 1961, respectively. In 1988 he was awarded honorary Doctor of Science degree from the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

Revised January 31, 2013

Quantum Cascade Lasers