Three scientists have been named winners of the 2013 Fritz J. & Dolores H. Russ Prize, awarded by the National Academy of Engineering. The $500,000 prize recognizes engineering achievement in a contemporary discipline of critical importance.
The winners are the late Samuel E. Blum, a researcher at Battelle Memorial Institute in Columbus, Ohio; Rangaswamy Srinivasan, president of UVTech Associates in Ossining, N.Y.; and James J. Wynne, a senior member of the staff at IBM’s T. J. Watson Research Center. They were cited for their contributions to the development of laser ablative photodecomposition, which enables laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis (LASIK) and photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) eye surgery.
Srinivasan discovered ablative photodecomposition in synthetic organic polymers in 1979 and extended it to biological tissue in 1981. From 1983 to 1991, he and Wynne collaborated extensively with surgeons and discovered potential applications of the technique in eye surgery. He is a recipient of the National Medal of Technology & Innovation, as are Blum and Wynne. Srinivasan is a 54-year member of ACS.
Wynne and two IBM colleagues discovered excimer laser surgery in 1981, which laid the foundation for the development of techniques such as LASIK and PRK.
Blum’s patent on the ultraviolet excimer laser, which is used in surgical and dental procedures, was a significant contribution to the development of LASIK eye surgery.
The award ceremony took place in February in Washington, D.C.