Prof. Dr. María Luisa Calvo Padilla

M. L. PhotoChair of Optics
Department of Optics

Faculty of Physical Sciences
Complutense University of Madrid

Ciudad Universitaria s/n
28040 Madrid, Spain. 
Phone: +34 91 3944684
E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it



Shorth biography 

Prof. Maria L. Calvo graduated in Physics in 1969 at the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM, Spain). After graduation she first visited Phillips (Eindhoven, Holland) and started working in quality control on glass fabrication (surface quality and stress analysis). Later, she became a fellow of the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) in Paris. At the Institute of Optics she continued to work on optical properties of glasses and amorphous materials under the direction of Prof. Lucien Prod'homme and Prof. Aniuta Winter-Klein (glass microhardness and experimental Rayleigh light scattering) and obtained a Doctorate Diploma from the University of Paris VI (France,1971). In 1972 she contacted Prof. Armando Durán, (known for his pioneering work on night myopia along with J. M. Otero in 1941-43) and who was currently a professor of Optics at UCM. She joined the Optics Department of UCM as an assistant professor and started theoretical studies on light scattering defects in isotropic media. She presented a Ph.D. dissertation (with honors) on this subject in June 1977. In 1981 she became an associate professor and in 1999 obtained the Chair of Optics at the same department. She was Head of the Department of Optics during the period (2006-2010).

Research interests 

During the period 1972-2016 she has developed works on theoretical formalisms for light scattering, optical waveguide theory and applications to periodic (Volume Holographic Gratings) and aperiodic media  as well as in design, synthesis and characterization of holographic photomaterials and photonic devices with silicon and sol-gel basis. In 1985-86 she was a visiting professor at the University of California (School of Optometry, Berkeley, USA) and re-visited later in 1988 ,1989, 1997 and in 2000 the University of Missouri-Saint Louis. She collaborated with Prof. Jay M. Enoch and Vasudevan Lakshminarayanan on modeling retinal Optical Photoreceptors applying electromagnetic framework: absorption, pupil effect, linearity,  birefringence and stress induced changes on guides structure and analysis through scattered light.

Prof. Calvo is concerned with the education, professional issues and career in Optics and Photonics for young researchers. She has coordinated a text book on Advanced Optics, another one in Virtual Laboratory of Optics and in 2007 she coordinated with V. Lakshminarayanan a text in: Optical Waveguides: From Theory to Applied Technolologies. In 2013 she co-edited with V. Lakshminarayanan and T. Alieva a text book on Mathematical Optics: Classical, Quantum and Computational Methods. She is teaching undergraduate and graduate courses of Optics at the Physics Grade and Master degrees. She has supervised nine thesis and is currently co-directing other projects. Her main areas are Electromagnetic Theory of Optical Waveguides, Optical Processing of Information, Holography and photomaterials, Photoreceptors Optics and Neutron Optics. In 2001, with her former student Pavel Cheben (NRC, Ottawa, Canada) they developed a new photopolymerisable glass for holographic data storage with diffraction efficiency near 100% and high refractive index modulation. After more than thirty years of former studies, she applies the fundamentals on optical properties of glasses and is working with her group and other collaborators on improving the current performances for  applications in optical computing, signal processing and femtosecond lasers applications. The group detected in 2006 for the first time the pendellösung effect in the optical band. Prof. Calvo is interested in divulgation of science and education in optics and photonics. She is a member of the European Network of Photonics Explorer. As a current challenge GICO-UCM is developing new techniques for image processing, optical beams characterization along with new photonic micro-devices.


As a resume, she is the author of more than 200 scientific publications on the subjects mentioned above. Also, she is interested in early history of lenses (with Jay M. Enoch). In 1993 she established  the former Interdisciplinary Group for Bio-Optics Research (GIBO-UCM), later becoming the Interdisciplinary Group for Optical Computing (GICO-UCM) developing current applications of Optical Signal Theory and applications to conventional and unconventional optical processing of information, Holography and Scattering theory of Light.  From 1994-99 she collaborated with the Spanish Ministry of Defense (National Institute for Aero-spatial Technique, INTA). GICO-UCM is an UCM Research Group belonging to the EU International Campus of Excellence in the subjects Materials for the Future and Innovative Medicine.

Professional activities 

Prof. Calvo was President of the Image Technical Committee of the Spanish Optical Society (SEDOPTICA) (1992-1997). She was a Traveling Lecturer of the International Commission for Optics (ICO) in 1998 and SPIE Traveling Lecturer in 2003 and 2009. She was elected Vice-president at the ICO Bureau (1999-2002 term) and elected Secretary-General of ICO (term 2002-2005) and term 2005-2008. She also collaborates with the General Directorate for Research and Technology of the European Union in Brussels and with the International Center for Theoretical Physics (ICTP. Trieste, Italy). In Spain she collaborates with Ministry of Science and Innovation on research projects panels. She is an elected Fellow of OSA, an elected Fellow of SPIE, an elected Fellow of  EOS and Honorary Member of SEDOPTICA. She  was member of the Board of the Spanish Physical Society (RSEF) (2007-2011) and representing the society at the Advisory Committee of the European Physics Journal (EPJ). She is a member of the Board of Editors of the Journal of Modern Optics. In July 2008 she was elected President of the International Commission for Optics (ICO) for the term 2008-2011. In September 2011 she received the title of Honorary Doctor from the Russian-Armenian University (RAU) after the Chancellor Armen Darbinian.

She is currently Vice-President of the RSEF (term 2013-2017).


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