Malvin C. Teich

Professor, Boston University

Professor Emeritus, Columbia University


Lasers and Electro-Optics Society (LEOS) Annual Meeting, San Francisco, November 13, 1997

Boston University and LEOS Central New England Chapter, Boston, April 23, 1997

Columbia University, New York, October 28, 1997

Massachusetts Institute of Technology and MIT Lincoln Laboratory, Boston, December 3, 1997


Heterodyning is a technique whereby two high-frequency waves interfere to produce a signal at the readily detectable difference frequency between them. It is the time analog of holography. In conjunction with the Doppler shift - a frequency change imparted to a wave as it reflects from a moving object - heterodyning can be used to determine the velocity of an object, such as a solid body (satellite), fluid (blood), gas (wind), or even a tiny biological specimen. Since heterodyning can be implemented over a broad frequency range of the electromagnetic spectrum, from the radiowave through the optical, the technique has many incarnations. This lecture focuses on three modern implementations of heterodyning:

The historical background relating to the development of heterodyning in different regions of the spectrum will be woven throughout the presentation, and contributions of the award recipient will be highlighted.


The Morris E. Leeds Award was established by the Board of Directors of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) in 1958. It is presented to an individual or group of individuals for outstanding contributions to the field of electrical measurement. Professor Malvin C. Teich is the 1997 recipient for his "outstanding contributions to electrical measurement using infrared and nonlinear heterodyne detection". Since 1995, he has been teaching and pursuing his research interests at Boston University, as Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Physics, and Biomedical Engineering. He is a Member of the Quantum Imaging Laboratory, the Photonics Center, and the Hearing Research Center. He is also Professor Emeritus of Engineering Science and Applied Physics at Columbia University. He is most widely known for his work in photonics and for his studies of fractal stochastic processes in sensory systems. Dr. Teich's first professional association, in 1966, was with MIT Lincoln Laboratory, where he demonstrated that heterodyne detection could be achieved in the middle-infrared region of the electromagnetic spectrum. He joined the faculty at Columbia University in 1967, where he served as a member of the Electrical Engineering Department (as Chairman from 1978 to 1980), the Applied Physics Department, and the Columbia Radiation Laboratory. Continuing his work on heterodyning, he recognized that the interaction could be understood in terms of the absorption of individual bichromatic photons, and demonstrated the possibility of implementing the process in a multiphoton configuration. He developed the concept of nonlinear heterodyne detection - useful for canceling phase or frequency noise in an optical system. In collaboration with his students, and with colleagues at the Columbia College of Physicians & Surgeons and the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, he conducted heterodyne velocity measurements of the vibratory motion of individual sensory cells in the mammalian cochlea, discovering that these cells can vibrate spontaneously, even in the absence of a stimulus. During his tenure at Columbia, he also carried out extensive research in the areas of photon statistics and point processes, noise in fiber-optic amplifiers and avalanche photodiodes, and the generation of squeezed light. His academic credentials include the S.B. degree in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the M.S. degree in electrical engineering from Stanford University, and the Ph.D. degree from Cornell University. Dr. Teich is a Fellow of the IEEE, AAAS, APS, OSA, and ASA. He is a member of Sigma Xi, Tau Beta Pi, the Biomedical Engineering Society, and the Association for Research in Otolaryngology. Prior awards include the IEEE Browder J. Thompson Memorial Prize (1969), a Guggenheim Fellowship (1973), and the Memorial Gold Medal of Palacký University in the Czech Republic (1992). He has authored or coauthored some 250 technical publications and is the coauthor of the textbook Fundamentals of Photonics (Wiley, 1991).