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Laser Physics

Content About: Laser Physics

Published: 07/10/2017 - 8:47am Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

Getting lasers to have a precise single frequency (color) can be trickier than herding cats. So it’s no small accomplishment that the Thompson group has figured out how to use magnetic fields to create atomic cowpokes to wrangle a specific single color into place so that it doesn’t wander hither and yon. The researchers do this with a magnetic field that causes strontium atoms in an optical...

Published: 06/20/2017 - 3:15pm Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

The Kapteyn-Murnane group has come up with a novel way to use fast bursts of extreme ultraviolet light to capture how strongly electrons interact with each other in materials. This research is important for figuring out how quickly materials can change their state from insulating to conducting, or from magnetic to nonmagnetic. In the future such fast switching may lead to faster and more...

Published: 03/20/2017 - 3:32pm Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

Dennis Gardner and his coworkers in the Kapteyn-Murnane group accomplished two major breakthroughs in imaging tiny structures much too small to be seen with visible light microscopes: (1) for the first time in the extreme ultraviolet (EUV) or soft X-ray region, they achieved a resolution smaller than the wavelength of the light; and (2) for the first time, they obtained high resolution...

Published: 03/07/2017 - 9:51am Type of Content: News

Christina Porter has won the 2017 Karel Urbanek Best Student Paper Award. The award consists of a wall plaque, honorarium, and trophy. The award was presented  on Thursday March 2, 2017, at this year's Metrology, Inspection, and Process Control for Microlithography conference at the SPIE Advanced LIthography in San Jose, California. The award is sponsored by KLA-Tencor.

Porter...

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: 10/27/2016 - 12:06pm Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

Using frequency comb spectroscopy, the Ye group has directly observed transient intermediate steps in a chemical reaction that plays a key role in combustion, atmospheric chemistry, and chemistry in the interstellar medium. The group was able to make this first-ever measurement because frequency combs generate a wide range of laser wavelengths in ultrafast pulses. These pulses made it possible...

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: 09/21/2016 - 12:04pm Type of Content: News

Science News has a delightful profile of Senior Research Associate Tenio Popmintchev as part of the magazines annual feature: The SN10: Meet the scientists making the next big discoveries.

The magazine showcases Popmintchev’s accomplishments at JILA as a laser physicist, including his having played a key role in the invention of the world’s first tabletop x-ray laser. The magazine...

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: 04/21/2016 - 8:24am Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

Move over, single-atom laser cooling! The Holland theory group has just come up with a stunning idea for a new kind of laser cooling for use with ensembles of atoms that all “talk” to each other. In other words, the theory looks at laser cooling not from the perspective of cooling a single atom, but rather from the perspective of many atoms working together to rapidly cool themselves to a...

Published: 02/19/2016 - 1:44pm Type of Content: News

Graduate Student Matt Norcia (Thompson group) received a JILA Scientific Achievement Award on February 18. The announcement took place during a special snack time in the Sunrise Room of the JILA Tower.

Norcia was cited for building a strontium cavity-QED experiment from scratch. Norcia’s advisor, James Thompson, nominated him for the prestigious award. Thompson noted that Norcia’s...

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: 12/16/2015 - 12:31pm Type of Content: News

President Obama has selected JILA Fellow Jun Ye of NIST's Quantum Physics Division to receive a 2015 Presidential Rank Award. The award cited Ye's work advancing "the frontier of light-matter interaction and focusing on precision measurement, quantum physics and ultracold matter, optical frequency metrology, and ultrafast science."

The Presidential Rank Awards honor a select group...

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: 11/19/2015 - 4:14pm Type of Content: News

Graduate student Chris Mancuso and senior research associate Dan Hickstein of the Kapteyn/Murnane group recently spoke with Amanda Grennell, a 5th year PhD candidate in Chemistry at the University of Colorado Boulder. The researchers discussed the K/M group’s paper “Strong-field ionization with two-color circularly polarized laser fields,” which appeared in Physical Review A in March, 2015....

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: 09/21/2015 - 9:05am Type of Content: News

JILA Fellow Margaret Murnane was named an honorary doctor on September 21, 2015, by the Faculty of Science and Technology at Uppsala University, Sweden's oldest institution of higher learning. Murnane was noted in the Uppsala University press release as being a world-leading expert in ultrafast quantum optics. In this field, Murnane is well known for her work on high-harmonic generation of...

Published: 07/06/2015 - 10:24am Type of Content: News

Margaret Murnane was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Trinity College Dublin on June 26, 2015. The entire ceremony was conducted in Latin and included a lively presentation of Murnane's accomplishments in laser science. It began, "Lucida diei patefacere res omnes quae oculis videantur," or "We see and understand the world through light," the words spoken by Murnane to open her lecture at the...

Published: 06/24/2015 - 3:48pm Type of Content: News

A National Science Foundation Discovery feature highlights the work of the Ye Lab in their dramatic development of laser frequency comb applications that have, according to the article "transformed basic scientific research and led to new technologies in so many different fields--timekeeping, medical research, communications, remote sensing, astronomy, just to name a few."

Learn more...

Published: 04/30/2015 - 12:59pm Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

For decades after the invention of the red ruby laser in 1960, bright laser-like beams were confined to the infrared, visible, and ultraviolet region of the spectrum. Today there’s an exciting revolution afoot: new coherent x-ray beams are now practical, including the EUV beams gracing the cover of the May 1, 2015, special issue of Science honoring the International Year of Light. The same...

Published: 04/27/2015 - 10:46am Type of Content: News

JILA Fellow and University of Colorado Distinguished Professor of Physics Margaret Murnane has been elected to the American Philosophical Society in Class 1: Mathematical and Physical Sciences. She received the honor in April 2015.

The American Philosophical Society was  founded in 1743 and is the first "learned" society of United States. Tom Cech is currently a...

Published: 04/21/2015 - 9:16am Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

The Ye group has just improved the accuracy of the world’s best optical atomic clock by another factor of three and set a new record for clock stability. The accuracy and stability of the improved strontium lattice optical clocks is now about 2 x 10-18, or the equivalent of not varying from perfect time by more than one second in 15 billion years—more than the age of the Universe. Clocks like...

Published: 04/20/2015 - 1:12pm Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

The Ye Group recently investigated what first appeared to be a “bug” in an experiment and made an unexpected discovery about a new way to generate high-harmonic light using molecular gases rather than gases of noble atoms.

Graduate student Craig Benko and his colleagues in the Ye group were studying the interaction of light from an extreme ultraviolet (XUV) frequency comb with molecules...

Published: 02/27/2015 - 11:11am Type of Content: News

Margaret Murnane is well known for her work in the field of laser science. Since 1999, she has been a professor at the University of Colorado and a member of the NSF-funded JILA Physics Frontier Center. Today she and her husband Henry Kapteyn are conducting pioneering research in ultrafast x-ray science. The couple also owns a small laser company. After a lecture at the National Science...

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: 06/17/2014 - 8:39am Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

The Ye group has not only made two invisible rulers of extreme ultraviolet (XUV) light, but also figured out how to observe them with ordinary laboratory electronics. With this setup, the researchers were able to prove that the two rulers had extraordinarily long phase-coherence time. This feat is so profound, it is nearly certain to transform the investigation of matter with extreme...

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: 04/09/2013 - 1:10pm Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

When the Thompson group first demonstrated its innovative “superradiant” laser the team noticed that sometimes the amount of light emitted by the laser would fluctuate up and down.  The researchers wondered what was causing these fluctuations. They were especially concerned that whatever it was could also be a problem in future lasers based on the same principles.

In the group’s...

Published: 04/03/2012 - 6:00pm Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

The Thompson group, with theory help from the Holland group, recently demonstrated a superradiant laser that escapes the “echo chamber” problem that limits the best lasers. To understand this problem, imagine an opera singer practicing in an echo chamber. The singer hears his own voice echo from the walls of the room. He constantly adjusts his pitch to match that of his echo from some time...

Published: 03/14/2012 - 6:00pm Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

The Kapteyn/Murnane group and scientists from NIST Boulder and Germany have figured out how the interaction of an ultrafast laser with a metal alloy of iron and nickel destroys the metal’s magnetism. In a recent experiment, the researchers were able to observe how individual bits of quantum mechanical magnetization known as “spin” behaved after the metal was heated with the laser. The...

Published: 02/01/2012 - 5:00pm Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

The Ye group has created the world’s first “ruler of light” in the extreme ultraviolet (XUV). The new ruler is also known more formally as the XUV frequency comb. The comb consists of hundreds of equally spaced “colors” that function in precision measurement like the tics on an ordinary ruler. The amazing thing about this ruler is that XUV colors have such short wavelengths they aren’t even...

Published: 05/16/2011 - 6:00pm Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

Predrag Ranitovic dreams of controlling chemical reactions with ultrafast lasers. Now he and his colleagues in the Kapteyn/Murnane group are one step closer to bringing this dream into reality. The group recently used a femtosecond infrared (IR) laser and two extreme ultraviolet (XUV) harmonics created by the same laser to either ionize helium atoms or prevent ionization,...

Published: 12/05/2010 - 5:00pm Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

The vision of a tabletop x-ray laser has taken a giant step into reality, thanks to Tenio Popmintchev, Ming-Chang Chen and their colleagues in the Kapteyn/Murnane group. By focusing a femtosecond laser into a gas, Popmintchev and Chen generated many colors of x-rays at once, in a band that stretched from the extreme ultraviolet into the soft x-ray region of the electromagnetic spectrum,...

Published: 10/04/2013 - 3:32pm Type of Content: Video Gallery

Dr. John Hall shares some of his thoughts and experiences developing the optical frequency comb, the discovery for which he shared the 2005 Nobel Prize. The occasion was the 2010 (Colorado) Governor's Award for High Impact Research, sponsored by CO-LABS.

Published: 04/08/2009 - 6:00pm Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

Fellows Steve Cundiff and Ralph Jimenez have created two precision optics instruments with a priceless potential for shedding light on condensed-matter and biological physics. Instrument shop staffer Kim Hagen aided and abetted them in their endeavor by creating exquisite CAD drawings and machining precision parts.

After three years of development, the Institute is now home to two JILA...

Published: 04/08/2009 - 6:00pm Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

To be the best they can be, optical atomic clocks need better clock lasers — lasers that remain phase coherent a hundred times longer than the very best conventional lasers. For instance, light from the clock laser in Fellow Jun Ye’s lab can travel around the Earth 10 times before it loses coherence. However, realizing the potential of the lab’s optical clock requires that the laser light...

Published: 02/09/2009 - 5:00pm Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

In the summer of 2008, Fellow Jun Ye spent a couple of months at CalTech, where he ran into another visiting professor, former JILA Fellow Peter Zoller. Zoller left JILA in 1994 to become Professor of Physics at the University of Innsbruck (Austria). Besides riding bikes together in the mountains, the two men engaged in happy and fruitful discussions about Ye’s work developing a strontium- (Sr...

Published: 02/09/2009 - 5:00pm Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

An oxygen molecule (O2) doesn't fall apart so easily — even when an X-ray knocks out one of its electrons and superexcites the molecule during a process called photoionization. In this process, the X-ray first removes an electron from deep inside the molecule, leaving a hole in O2+. Then, an outer electron can fall into the hole, and a second outer electron gets ejected, carrying away any...

Published: 02/09/2009 - 5:00pm Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

Researchers in the Kapteyn/Murnane group have decided to use soft X-ray bursts to watch the interplay of electronic and atomic motions inside a molecule. Such information determines how chemical bonds are formed or broken during chemical reactions.

A recent study using this technique was featured on the November 21, 2008, cover of Science magazine. In it, research associate Wen Li...

Published: 04/08/2008 - 6:00pm Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

Xibin Zhou and his colleagues in the Kapteyn/Murnane group have come up with a clever new way to study the structure of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other molecules. The researchers use two innovative tools: (1) coherent electrons knocked out of the CO2 molecules by a laser and (2) the X-rays produced by these electrons when they recollide with the same molecules. The coherent electrons and X-rays...

Published: 07/08/2008 - 6:00pm Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

Fellow Jun Ye’s group is methodically working its way toward the creation of an X-Ray frequency comb. Recently, senior research associate Thomas Schibli, graduate student Dylan Yost, Fellow Jun Ye, and colleagues from IMRA America, Inc. developed a high-performance, ultrastable fiber laser optical frequency comb. At the same time, Yost developed a clever method for getting coherent short-...

Published: 04/08/2008 - 6:00pm Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

By late 2006, Fellow Jun Ye’s clock team had raised the accuracy of its strontium (Sr)-lattice atomic clock to be just shy of that of the nation’s primary time and frequency standard, the NIST-F1 cesium (Cs) fountain clock. Graduate students Marty Boyd and Andrew Ludlow led the effort to improve the clock’s accuracy. But then, the clock team had to spend another year proving that its imporved...

Published: 04/08/2008 - 6:00pm Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

With every breath you take, you breathe out carbon dioxide and roughly 1000 other different molecules. Some of these can signal the early onset of such diseases as asthma, cystic fibrosis, or cancer. Thanks to graduate student Mike Thorpe and his colleagues in Fellow Jun Ye’s group, medical practitioners may one day be able to identify these disease markers with a low-cost, noninvasive breath...

Published: 02/09/2008 - 5:00pm Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

The Kapteyn/Murnane group recently proved that you don’t need an accelerator facility to make the X-Rays for an X-Ray microscope. In fact, you can build the whole device on an optical bench — if you use a femtosecond laser to generate coherent X-Rays. The group makes coherent X-Rays by shining the laser into a glass tube filled with argon gas. The argon atoms absorb many low-energy laser...

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

In Fellow Steve Cundiff’s lab, echoes of light are illuminating the quantum world. Former Graduate Student Gina Lorenz used a technique known as echo peak shift spectroscopy to probe the interactions of potassium atoms in a dense vapor. Research Associate Sam Carter then used the same method to investigate the interactions of excitons confined in two-dimensional semiconductor quantum wells....

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: 02/09/2006 - 5:00pm Type of Content: Article-Research Highlight

"Watch" atoms collide! Thrill to the twists and turns of potassium atom wave functions as the atoms come closer and closer to impact! "See" the atoms deform, then recover as they smash together and fly apart inside a dense atomic vapor! It's all in a day's work for Graduate Student Virginia (Gina) Lorenz and Fellow Steve Cundiff.

The researchers use femtosecond pulses of laser light to...

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

Jason Jones, Kevin Moll, Mike Thorpe, and Jun Ye have generated the world's first precise frequency comb in the extreme ultraviolet (EUV) using a combination of an ultrafast mode-locked laser and a precision high-finesse optical cavity. The EUV frequency comb consists of regularly spaced sharp lines that extend into the EUV region of the electromagnetic spectrum. It is generated by coherent...

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...

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

Pete Roos, Tara Fortier, Xiaoqin Li, Ryan Smith, Jessica Pipis, and Steve Cundiff are using a phase-controlled mode-locked laser to control quantum processes in semiconductors. Semiconductors are capable of producing electrical currents from light (and vice-versa) and are the basis for a wide variety of optoelectronic devices, including photodiodes, light-emitting diodes, and solar cells....

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Published: 06/17/2014 - 10:55am Type of Content: Research Areas

The Steve Cundiff group is working on developing ultrafast-modelocked fiber lasers because this technology would be significantly less expensive than ultrashort-pulse titanium:sapphire (Ti:S) lasers for routine laboratory use. Fiber lasers rely on fiber technology developed for the telecommunications industry, but they present some challenges. For instance, these lasers cannot use the Kerr-...

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Published: 06/10/2014 - 3:54pm Type of Content: Research Areas

Precision laser science at JILA has taken a quantum leap, thanks to some seminal theory work by the Murray Holland group and promising basic research and technical development by the James Thompson and Jun Ye groups. The story began in 2004 just after Ye had finished a talk on the advantages of focusing on strontium (Sr) in basic physics research. Daniel Kleppner, Lester Wolfe Professor of...

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