Smith, P. W. E.

Smith, P (2)-H350

Professor Emeritus



Contact Information


Peter W.E. Smith received the BSc degree in Mathematics and Physics in 1958 and the MSc and PhD degrees in Physics in 1961 and 1964, all from McGill University, Montreal, P.Q., Canada.  From 1958 to 1959 he was an Engineer at the Canadian Marconi Company, Montreal, Canada, where he worked on transistor circuitry.  After obtaining his PhD degree, he joined  Bell Laboratories in Holmdel, NJ, USA, where he conducted research on laser mode selection and mode-locking, pioneered the development of waveguide gas lasers, and demonstrated and developed hybrid bistable optical devices. In 1970, he spent nine months at the University of California, Berkeley as Visiting Mackay Lecturer in the Department of Electrical Engineering, and in 1978-1979 he was a visiting research scientist at the Laboratoire d’Optique Quantique, Ecole Polytechnique, Palaiseau, France.  From 1984 to 1992 he was with Bell Communications Research, Red Bank, NJ, USA, where for the last three years he was Division Manager of Photonic Science and Technology Research.  In July 1992 he became Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, at the University of Toronto.  From 1992 to 1995 he served as Executive Director of the Ontario Laser and Lightwave Research Centre, and from 1999 to 2003 as Director of the Nortel Institute for Telecommunications at the University of Toronto. Since 2003 he has been Professor Emeritus, and has pursued research interests in photonics involving fibre Bragg grating devices, ultrafast optical switching, and nonlinear optical properties of nanocrystals.  He has published over 300 technical papers in refereed journals and conference proceedings (with over 7,500 citations listed in the ISI Science Citations Index), and holds 34 patents in the photonics area.


  • Life Fellow of the IEEE
  • Fellow of the Optical Society of America
  • Fellow of the Institute of Physics (UK)
  • Member of the Canadian Association of Physicists
  • Life Member of Telephone Pioneers of America
  • Professional Physicist (PPhys)
  • NATO Senior Scientist Award 1979
  • Bell Laboratories Distinguished Technical Staff Award 1982
  • Bell Laboratories Technical Journal Best Paper Award 1983
  • Associate Editor of the IEEE Journal of Quantum Electronics 1976-1979
  • Associate Editor of Optics Letters 1980-1982
  • President of the IEEE Lasers and Electro-Optics Society (now the IEEE Photonics Society) 1984
  • IEEE Quantum Electronics Award 1986
  • Optical Society of America George Eastman Lecturer 1987
  • Founder of the OSA/IEEE Photonic Switching Conference (served as co-Chair of the first two conferences in 1987 and 1989)
  • IEEE Circuits and Devices Magazine Best Paper Award 1988
  • Popular Science “100 Best” Award for one of the top 100 achievements of the year (world’s fastest switch) 1988
  • Editor-in-Chief of the IEEE Press book series Progress in Lasers and Electro-Optics 1987-1991
  • Editor of Optics Letters 1990-1996
  • Member of the Board of Directors of the Optical Society of America 1993 – 1997
  • Chair of the Board of Editors of the Optical Society of America 1996-1998
  • IEEE Third Millennium Medal 2000