OSA Rochester Section

Dr. Erwin Loewen, an honorary member and past president of OSA-RS passes away

June 20, 2016 9:24 PM | Angshuman Deka (Administrator)

Dr Erwin G Loewen, an OSA fellow and expert on diffraction gratings, died on June 8th in Rochester, New York, aged 95 years.

Born in Germany, Loewen moved to England and then the United States and received a BMechE degree from New York University in 1941.  After serving in the United States Army, he enrolled at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he received MS, MMechE and DSc degrees.

Loewen served as the director of Bausch & Lomb's Grating Laboratory (now Richardson Gratings) for more than twenty-five years where he specialized in the design and manufacture of diffraction gratings, and retired in 1987 as vice president of research and development at Milton Roy.  He then taught in the University of Rochester’s Institute of Optics until 1997.

Loewen coauthored Diffraction Gratings and Applications and dozens of articles on gratings and metrology.  He was honored with the Society of Manufacturing Engineer’s F. W. Taylor Research Medal, the OSA’s Richardson Medal and Joseph Fraunhofer Award / Robert M. Burley Prize, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Society for Precision Engineering, the Rochester Engineer of the Year award, and the Technology Award from the Rochester Chamber of Commerce. He also served as president of the Rochester Section of the Optical Society of America and two terms on an advisory panel for the National Bureau of Standards.

Erwin’s passion for extending the research and development of diffraction gratings beyond existing limitations led to a more than thirty-year-long and quite fruitful collaboration with several research teams in France (Laboratoire d’Optique Electromagnétique and Institut Fresnel in Marseille), England (Cranfield Institute of Technology), Australia (University of Sydney) and Bulgaria (Institute of Solid State Physics in Sofia).  His practical sense perfectly matched his own phrasing: “One thing is to publish a scientific paper, another is to make a product, and completely different is to sell it profitably.”

Erwin’s wide experience in optics led to the realization of many scientific projects and to many scientific papers, bringing together scientists and optical engineers.  Erwin conducted himself with elegance, a sense of humor, natural dignity, and a lot of curiosity, kindness, and compassion.  He loved life and was always eager to discover new countries and people, to enjoy new cuisines, especially in the south of France, and to savor fine wines.

He is survived by daughter Heidi Loewen and son Oliver Loewen (by his first wife Joanna), three grandchildren and his second wife Anita Rosenfeld.  A memorial service will be held in Rochester on August 6th.


Christopher Palmer

Richardson Gratings

Rochester, New York  

Evgeny Popov

Laboratoire d’Optique Electromagnétique

Marseille, France


Daniel Maystre

Institut Fresnel

Marseille, France

Michel Nevière

Institut Fresnel

Marseille, France


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