This year marks the 50th anniversary of Applied Optics, the peer-reviewed scientific journal published by the Optical Society of America (OSA) that includes articles emphasizing applications-centered research in optics.

Topic areas in the journal range from optical technology to information processing to lasers, photonics and environmental optics.

The U.S. Army Research Laboratory's (ARL) own Dr. Joseph Mait is the current editor-in-chief of the journal, and stated that there is much to celebrate in the journal's 50th year.

According to Mait, "the mission of Applied Optics is to move the potential of science and technology to the practical, and the list of the journal's 50 most cited articles reflects its significant role in the development of important technologies."

As an example, the laser was invented in 1960, followed shortly thereafter by low-loss fiber optical cable, and Applied Optics, which appeared for the first time in January 1962, provided a venue for researchers to report on the maturation of these technologies.

"Without the development and communication of these technologies, I would not be able to watch high definition programs provided by my cable company," said Mait.

Mait also noted that the journal reflects the development of new optical elements such as graded-index optical elements and diffractive optical elements, new interferometric techniques for metrology, and methods for long-range sensing of our environment.

The position of editor-in-chief of Applied Optics not only allows Mait to gain insight on the latest in research, it allows him to bring feedback back to the laboratory.

"I am in a position to note global trends in research," stated Mait.

"In the early 2000s, it was already apparent that U.S. technological supremacy was being threatened by China, Korea, Singapore and Brazil, and in my advisory role to the ARL director as a senior scientist and ARL Fellow, it helps make the case for the lab to have a strong international presence and to advocate for a less-encumbered process for overseas conference travel," added Mait.

Looking to the future, Mait said that the goal of the journal remains the same, to publish peer-reviewed articles related to applications-centered research in optics, photonics, imaging and sensing, but at the same time, he will also turn focus towards the appearance and presentation of the journal as it heads into its second half-century.

The most serious issue that Mait says he faces is keeping the journal relevant in the face of new on-line-only journals, such as OSA's Optics Express.

"Optics Express is an open-access journal, one in which authors must pay to have their work published. The open-access model gives them the widest possible dissemination of their work, which makes such journals more attractive," said Mait.

Amid both the challenges and opportunities that the journal faces, Mait says that in this golden anniversary year of the journal, he and OSA are highlighting the journal's legacy to the author community and underscoring for them the features that make Applied Optics the place to publish in-depth articles on applied research in optics.

Follow the link to visit the 50th anniversary site of Applied Optics: