In Memoriam: Stephan W. Koch

Nov. 1, 2022
Stephan Koch Headshot
Memorial Tree Planting for Stephan Koch

A tree was planted in memory of Dr. Stephan Koch next to the Physics building on the campus outside of Philipps University of Marburg in Germany.

Photo Kindly Provided by Harald Giessen

Dr. Stephan W. Koch passed away on September 12, 2022 at the age of 69 years. Stephan was a professor of optical sciences at the Wyant College of Optical Sciences and spent many years collaborating with other departments and universities. On October 21st a tree was planted in his memory on the grounds of the department of his home college at the Philipps University of Marburg in Germany. Martin Koch, one of Stephan's experimental colleagues in the Department of Physics at Philipps University of Marburg, said of the memorial, "Whenever the tree catches your eye, you can think of Stephan."



Obituary Submitted to Physics Today:

Rolf Binder, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona
Weng Chow, Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Mackillo Kira, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Andreas Knorr, Technical University of Berlin, Berlin, Germany
Torsten Meier, University of Paderborn, Paderborn, Germany
Jerome Moloney, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona

Stephan W. Koch from the Philipps University of Marburg in Germany died in Marburg on 12 September 2022 at the age of 69 after a short illness. He had recently retired as a professor of physics at the university, a position he had occupied since 1993 after spending the period of 1986–93 as a professor of optical sciences and physics at the University of Arizona. He had continued to maintain a many-decades-long collaborative link to Arizona’s Wyant College of Optical Sciences as an adjunct professor until his untimely death.

Stephan was a highly respected, pioneering theoretical physicist whose groundbreaking research on consistent many-body theory shaped the scope of optical, quantum-optical, and electronic properties of solids. He was a prolific trendsetter, as evidenced by his remarkable body of work that led to transformational insights and experimental advancements in semiconductor quantum optics, coherent ultrafast phenomena, lightwave electronics, the interface of optics and quantum transport, and laser technology. His name will always be associated with the semiconductor Bloch equations, so elegantly derived in his classic textbook coauthored with Hartmut Haug, Quantum Theory of the Optical and Electronic Properties of Semiconductors. Stephan was also a very dedicated university teacher who not only passed his enthusiasm to students but also mentored numerous scientists, now spread worldwide in academia. The Marburg school of consistent many-body theory was born and carries on Stephan’s scientific legacy.

Stephan received numerous prestigious national and international honors and awards, including the Leibniz Prize (1997), the Max Planck Research Award (1999), and Fellow of the OSA (now Optica). With Stephan’s death, we lost a very special colleague, friend, teacher, and mentor whose intense dedication has made a lasting impact on semiconductor optics. We will all miss the conversations with Stephan, his criticism and visionary ideas, as well as his tireless dedication to his group and the community. Our deepest sympathy goes out to Stephan’s wife, Rita.

Published Obituaries

Stephan W. Koch | Physics Today

In Memoriam: Stephan W. Koch, 1953-2022 | Optica