World-renowned scholar Rentzepis joins ECE faculty

RentzepisWorld-renowned scholar, Dr. Peter Michael Rentzepis, recently joined the faculty of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Texas A&M University as professor and holder of the TEES Distinguished Research Professorship.

Rentzepis was one of four scholars who joined or will be joining Texas A&M as part of a $100 million fund at The Texas A&M University System known as the Chancellor’s Research Initiative (CRI), which is designed to elevate the engineering research portfolio by attracting world renowned scholars and researchers

Rentzepis is a pioneer in the field of ultrafast spectroscopy, especially its use in the study of transition states in chemical and biological reactions including photosynthesis, and was the first to apply the ultrafast pulses in the determination of the kinetics, transient spectra and lifetimes of excited states and metastable species. He also developed an ultrafast table-top X-ray laser which will have numerous applications to biology, chemistry and material science. He intends to teach an upper level course on lasers and their application to science and technology at Texas A&M.

Among his many accomplishments, Rentzepis was the first scientist to measure and use ultrashort pulses. In 1967, he performed the first experiments which measured directly the ultrafast relaxation, 4.5 x 10-12 s, of a transient state. He also was the first to show that ultrashort pulses are generated by laser, by the fast picosecond 10-12 s pulses. These pulses are used today in scientific fields that extend from surgery to optical communication, and plasma physics to digital entertainment. 

Rentzepis was born in Kalamata, Greece. He was awarded the Ph.D. degree in chemistry from the University of Cambridge, England. Immediately after receiving the Ph.D., he accepted a position at Bell Laboratories, Murray Hill, NJ, USA, as a member of the technical staff. His early years at Bell Laboratories is when Rentzepis contributed to the development of the laser and its application to physics, chemistry and biology. He later was appointed Head of Chemistry at Bell Laboratories, where he supervised the research of many Ph.D., M.S. and B.S. research and development workers.

In 1985 Rentzepis accepted the presidential chair and a professorship at UC Irvine, where he developed the field of ultrafast time resolved x-ray diffraction and EXAGS to accelerate the understanding of the structure of excited states and ultrafast decaying, of metastable intermediate species, which lead to his development of his ultrafast table-top X-ray laser.

Rentzepis has published more than 450 scientific papers in refereed journals, has written or edited five books and holds 80 patents. For his achievements in science he has been awarded numerous national and international prizes, including the Irving Langmuir Award in Chemical Physics, awarded by The American Physical Society, and receiving Honorary doctorates from Syracuse University, Denison University, Carnegie-Mellon University and the National Technical University of Greece. He also received the Peter Debye Award in Physical Chemistry-awarded by The American Chemical Society, was named Fellow of the New York Academy of Sciences and American Physical Society and was a Regents Professor at the University of California, at Los Angeles and UC Irvine. He also is a member of National and Foreign Academies of Sciences.