Nergis Mavalvala’s work is in quantum interferometry and its applications in the detection of gravity waves. She’s been a great help to the LIGO project. One of the obstacles to the detection of gravitational waves is the demand for a precision that exceeds the quantum limits of devices constructed to detect wave interference. Mavalvala has been developing a bag of tricks for evading those quantum limits.
Michal Lipson is an expert on etching optical waveguides into silicon chips in hope of creating information systems based on moving photons rather than elections. She works on both the theoretical and engineering sides of the field, showing the daring and flexibility of thought and practice that the MacArthur Foundation likes to reward.
To see the rest of the 2010 MacArthur fellows, go here.