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Ultrafast Laser Science

Content About: Ultrafast Laser Science

Published: 02/16/2017 - 2:41pm Type of Content: News

Margaret Murnane has been awarded the 2017 Optical Society of America’s (OSA’s) Frederic Ives Medal/Quinn Prize. The award recognizes overall distinction in optics and is the highest award given by OSA. The award was given to Murnane “for pioneering and sustained contributions to ultrafast science ranging from femtosecond lasers to soft x-ray high-harmonic generation to attosecond studies of...

Published: 10/11/2016 - 9:35am Type of Content: News

The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has just published a profile of Fellow Henry Kapteyn, a recently elected member of the National Academy of Sciences. The profile presents highlights of Kapteyn's life as well as his long and productive career in developing ultrashort-wavelength lasers, including table-top x-ray lasers. Many of Kapteyn's achievements occurred during a long and...

Published: 07/25/2016 - 2:39pm Type of Content: News

Jennifer Ellis won an Optical Society of America (OSA) award in recognition of her excellent oral contribution at the International Conference on Ultrafast Phenomena, held July 17–22 in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Ellis, who is a graduate student with the Kapteyn/Murnane group, spoke about her work on Femtosecond Dynamics of Solvated Electrons in Nanodroplets Probed with Extreme Ultraviolet Beams....

Published: 06/02/2016 - 12:12pm Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

The Kapteyn/Murnane group has measured how long it takes an electron born into an excited state inside a piece of nickel to escape from its birthplace. The electron’s escape is related to the structure of the metal. The escape is the fastest material process that has been measured before in the laboratory––on a time scale of a few hundred attoseconds, or 10-18 s. This groundbreaking experiment...

Published: 02/10/2016 - 3:26pm Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

Cong Chen and his colleagues in the Kapteyn/Murnane group have generated one of the most complex coherent light fields ever produced using attosecond (10-18 s) pulses of circularly polarized extreme ultraviolet (EUV) light. (The circularly polarized EUV light is shown as rotating blue sphere on the left of the picture. The complex coherent light field is illustrated with the teal, lilac, and...

Published: 12/03/2015 - 1:20pm Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

Imagine laser-like x-ray beams that can “see” through materials––all the way into the heart of atoms. Or, envision an exquisitely controlled four-dimensional x-ray microscope that can capture electron motions or watch chemical reactions as they happen. Such exquisite imaging may soon be possible with laser-like x-rays produced on a laboratory optical table. These possibilities have opened up...

Published: 09/21/2015 - 10:12am Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

The Kapteyn/Murnane group, with Visiting Fellow Charles Durfee, has figured out how to use visible lasers to control x-ray light! The new method not only preserves the beautiful coherence of laser light, but also makes an array of perfect x-ray laser beams with controlled direction and polarization. Such pulses may soon be used for observing chemical reactions or investigating the electronic...

Published: 03/03/2015 - 8:44am Type of Content: Video Gallery

When it comes to ultrafast lasers, Margaret Murnane’s name is one of the best known for her work in this field of science. Since 1999, she has been a professor at the University of Colorado’s NSF-funded JILA Physics Frontier Center, where she and her husband Henry Kapteyn pioneer research in ultrafast x-ray science. Additionally, the two also own a small laser company. Margaret is credited...

Published: 12/10/2014 - 9:02am Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

Until recently, researchers who wanted to understand how magnetic materials work had to reserve time on a large, stadium-sized X-ray machine called a synchrotron. Synchrotrons can produce X-ray beams that can be sculpted very precisely to capture how the spins in magnetic materials work together to give us beautiful and useful magnetic properties – for example to store data in a computer hard...

Published: 05/27/2014 - 10:36am Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

Mid-infrared (mid-IR) laser light is accomplishing some remarkable things at JILA. This relatively long-wavelength light (2–4 µm), when used to drive a process called high-harmonic generation, can produce bright beams of soft x-rays with all their punch packed into isolated ultrashort bursts. And, all this takes place in a tabletop-size apparatus. The soft x-rays bursts have pulse durations...

Published: 08/07/2013 - 8:02am Type of Content: News

James Thompson has been named the winner of a 2013 Department of Commerce Bronze Medal for his work on pioneering superradiant lasers. The superradiant laser is a quantum device that emits coherent lasing photons.

The DoC Bronze Medal is the highest honor the NIST Director can bestow upon NIST staff for outstanding accomplishments. The Bronze Medal citation reads “For pioneering the...

Published: 07/26/2013 - 8:28am Type of Content: News

JILA research associate Carlos Hernández-García has been honored with a 4th Award for Young Researchers from the 12th International Symposium on Ultrafast Intense Laser Science. The award recognizes Hernández-García's work on high-harmonic and zeptosecond pulse generation with the Becker and Kapteyn/Murnane groups in JILA and colleagues in Spain. It includes a travel grant to present his work...

Published: 09/26/2013 - 12:29pm Type of Content: Video Gallery

Physicists at JILA have demonstrated a novel "superradiant" laser design with the potential to be 100 to 1,000 times more stable than the best conventional visible lasers. This type of laser could boost the performance of the most advanced atomic clocks and related technologies, such as communications and navigation systems as well as space-based astronomical instruments.

Published: 11/23/2010 - 5:00pm Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

Fellow Jun Ye’s group has enhanced the molecular fingerprinting technique with the development of a mid-infrared (mid-IR) frequency comb.  The new rapid-detection technique can now identify traces of a wider variety of molecules found in mixtures of gases. It offers many advantages for chemical analysis of the atmosphere, climate science studies, and the detection of suspicious substances...

Published: 09/26/2013 - 12:21pm Type of Content: Video Gallery

Margaret Murnane is a Fellow of JILA and a Professor in the Department of Physics and of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Colorado. She received her B.S and M.S. degrees from University College Cork, Ireland, and her Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1989. She joined the faculty at Washington State University in 1990, moved to the University of...

Published: 08/17/2010 - 6:00pm Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

When former graduate student Mingming Feng started his thesis project, his goal was to build and characterize a mode-locked quantum dot diode laser in Kevin Silverman’s lab at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Feng chose this lab (after consultation with his advisor Steve Cundiff) because Silverman not only does a lot of work on diode laser development, but also...

Published: 07/08/2006 - 6:00pm Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

If you want to understand how chemical reactions happen, the ability to monitor dynamic positions of atoms in a molecule is critical. There's a well-known laser technique known as coherent Raman spectroscopy that uses a scattering laser pulse to set atoms vibrating and then measures the color shift of reflected light to detect vibration patterns. This technique has been used as a molecular...

Published: 04/08/2010 - 6:00pm Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

Imagine being able to observe how a magnet works at the nanoscale level, both in space and in time. For instance, how fast does a nanoscale magnetic material switch its orientation? What if understanding magnetic switching might lead to the use of the spin of an electron rather than its charge to create new devices? A new method for investigating such possibilities is just beginning to be...

Published: 09/29/2007 - 6:00pm Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

X-rays are notorious for damaging molecules, including those in our bodies. High in the upper atmosphere, X-rays from the Sun break apart simple molecules like nitrogen (N2) and drive chemical reactions affecting the Earth. For these reasons, it’s important to understand exactly how radiation interacts with, damages, or destroys specific chemicals.

Recently, Fellows Margaret Murnane and...

Published: 04/08/2007 - 6:00pm Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

It’s easy to make X-rays. Physicians and dentists make them routinely in their offices with a Roentgen X-ray tube, which emits X-rays every which way — just like a light bulb, which is nothing like a laser.

What’s hard is to make X-rays march in step in the same direction — in other words, act like a coherent beam of laser light. This year marks the 40th...

Published: 09/29/2006 - 6:00pm Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

When illuminated by X-ray and infrared light beams in tandem, electrons can tap dance off a platinum surface because they've actually grabbed a photon from both beams simultaneously. As you might have guessed, there is more going on here than the ordinary photoelectric effect, which Albert Einstein explained more than a century ago. In the photoelectric effect, electrons escape from a solid...

Published: 09/29/2006 - 6:00pm Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

In the race to develop the world's best optical atomic clock, accuracy and precision are what count. Accuracy is the degree to which a measurement of time conforms to time's true value. Precision is a gauge of the exactness, or reproducibility, of the measurements. By definition, a high-precision clock must be extremely stable. JILA may well be home to one of the world's most precise (and...

Published: 07/08/2006 - 6:00pm Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

"In the right light, in the right time, everything is extraordinary," according to photographer Aaron Rose. He could have just as easily been describing precision optical spectroscopy experiments recently conducted by Research Associates Tanya Zelevinsky and Tetsuya Ido, Graduate Students Martin Boyd and Andrew Ludlow, Fellow Jun Ye and collaborators from Poland's Instytut Fizyki and NIST's...

Published: 04/08/2006 - 6:00pm Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

Science sleuths have a new and powerful method for identifying (and investigating) atoms and molecules, thanks to Graduate Student Mike Thorpe, Research Associate Kevin Moll, Senior Research Associate Jason Jones, Undergraduate Student Assistant Ben Safdi, and Fellow Jun Ye. The new method allows them to study molecular vibrations, rotations, and collisions as well as temperature changes and...

Published: 09/29/2005 - 6:00pm Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

Fellow Jan Hall has been working on stabilizing the frequency of lasers since the 1960s. Now, he, JILA Research Associate Mark Notcutt, Long-Sheng Ma (currently at BIPM in France), and Fellow Jun Ye have devised an improved, compact, and less expensive method for stabilizing lasers. The new method is based on a small, vertically mounted optical cavity (shown on the right). Because the cavity...

Published: 04/08/2005 - 6:00pm Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

Three years ago Jun Ye decided to apply an old idea for amplifying and stabilizing continuous-wave (cw) lasers to state-of-the-art ultrafast lasers. In 2002, Jason Jones, a postdoctoral fellow with Jun, analyzed whether the build-up cavities used to amplify cw laser outputs could be modified to work with ultrafast, mode-locked lasers. His detailed calculations suggested that it would be...

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