Outstanding Scholastic Achievement

His study and contributions have initiated collaborations between universities and industries which support the advancement of knowledge, powering world class research, education and training.
Dato' Dr Hj Abdul Razak Mohd Ali
Member of the Nomination Committee
Outstanding Scholastic Achievement


Professor Dr Harith Ahmad was born on November 2, 1954 in Alor Star, Kedah. He received his undergraduate education at University of Malaya where he obtained a first class degree in physics and went on to do his master's degree in High Voltage Technology and a doctorate in Laser Technology from the University of Wales in the United Kingdom.

He began his academic career at the University of Malaya in 1983 as a lecturer and is currently a Professor of Photonics at the university. His other appointments and positions include:

  • Programme Head, National Top- Down Project on Photonics, MOSTI (since 1999)
  • Programme Head, Optical Planar Waveguides Project (since 2001)
  • Senior Principal Analyst, Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology (MIGHT), Prime Minister's Department (since 2001)
  • Reviewer, IEEE Photonics Technology Letters (in the US)
  • Fellow, Academy of Sciences, Malaysia.

A keen researcher in the field of photonics technology.Professor Dr Harith's areas of expertise are Fibre Optics And Waveguides (Plannar Lightwave Circuit), Quantum Electronics And Lasers (Laser Technology) and Fibre Optics & Waveguides (Fibre Optic Technology). He has over 300 journal publications and conference proceedings in his name, all of which are recognised by the International Citation Index. He has also obtained 10 patents jointly with Telekom Malaysia and has supervised more than 10 PhD students and over 30 MSc students.

Professor Dr Harith has been interested in physics and mathematics from an early age.

"Physics was something I enjoyed most as a student - physics and maths were my strong points. If you look at what happens around you, it is all based on physical principles. Of course there are other opinions, but physics is the mother of all sciences," he said.

Prof Harith nurtures the interest of his students by encouraging imagination and creativity.

Professor Dr Harith has worked in the semiconductor industry prior to a career in academia.

"I thought it was more interesting to work in the academic field, and I would like to encourage young people to join academia as it provides freedom to pursue your hobbies, passions and interests," he said.

Forefront of Research
Professor Dr Harith's pioneering research in the field of laser technology has initiated the development of devices and techniques for industrial and scientific applications. He holds numerous patents in photonics products jointly with Telekom Malaysia. Under his leadership, the Laser Research Group at the Department of Physics, University of Malaya, covered extensive research areas in the field of photonics including exploring the technology of femtosecond lasers.

In his laboratory, where he spends most of his time researching and supervising his students.

"We were the first in Malaysia to initiate work in optical fibres in the mid 1990s. In early 2000, we moved into fabrications of optical circuits," he said.

Never one to rest on his laurels and always pushing the boundaries of knowledge, Professor Dr Harith was also instrumental in initiating and developing a photonics laboratory and the only planar lightwave fabrication facility in the region.

Professor Dr Harith is currently researching nano photonics because of its many potential applications. It also provides an inroad to new areas of research and new products.

Hi research contributions in laser technology, optics and optical fibres include the design and fabrication of semiconductor-pumped solid-state lasers, developing techniques to study laser shadowgraphy, researching the interaction of electromagnetic waves in crystals, designing a fibre laser and developing tuneable solid state lasers.

Professor Dr Harith enjoys spending time in the laboratory. "You should enjoy what you are doing, and if you think you cannot enjoy it and there is no passion, it would be better to look for something else to do," he said.

He is delighted to have been selected as a joint recipient of the 2010 Merdeka Award in the Outstanding Scholastic Achievement category. He cites his contribution in the development of research in the country as his greatest achievement.

"I am glad to be able to develop good research in Malaysia and have produced many PhDs who are now working in other universities where they can pass on their knowledge," he added.

He continues to take an active role in facilitating the development of photonics research and education.

Concluding Remarks

Professor Dr Harith has made an immense contribution to science by steering the development and application of photonics technology in Malaysia. His research and the commercial potential of his research in photonics provide the framework in strengthening Malaysia's position as a vibrant and competitive nation where cutting edge capabilities and technology are available to businesses and communities.

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