Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

A New Gateway to the Microcosmos

05.05.2015

Physicists at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics have developed a new laser-light source that will lead to significant advances in research on fundamental physics.

With the aid of extremely short and highly intense pulses of laser light, scientists have made great strides in their efforts to observe and control particle motions outside the confines of atomic nuclei. Indeed, the future of electronics lies in optical control of electron flows.


The LAP team has developed a novel ytterbium:yttrium-aluminium-garnet thin-disk laser that emits light pulses lasting 7.7 femtoseconds and consisting of 2.2 optical oscillations. The pulses have an average power of 6 W and carry 0.15 microjoules of energy, over 1.5 orders of magnitude higher than those generated by commercially available Ti:Sa lasers.

Graphic: Thorsten Naeser

That would enable data processing operations to be performed at frequencies equivalent to the rate of oscillation of visible light – some 100,000 times faster than is feasible with current techniques. To reach this goal, advances in laser technology are essential.

Physicists at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (LAP), which is run jointly by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (MPQ), has developed a novel light source that brings the age of optoelectronics closer. The team describes the new instrument in the journal “Nature Communications”.

Most of the lasers utilized in research laboratories are based on titanium:sapphire (Ti:Sa) crystals, and this type of instrument has been the dominant tool in the production of ultrashort light pulses for over 20 years. But this situation is likely to change very soon.

All the indications are that thin-disc laser systems will soon displace their older rivals, which employ rod- or slab-like crystals. The team at the LAP has now introduced the Ytterbium:Yttrium-Aluminium-Garnet (Yb:YAG) disk laser. The instrument emits pulses lasting 7.7 femtoseconds (10 to the minus 15 sec, a millionth of a billionth of a second), which corresponds to 2.2 wave periods.

The average pulse power is 6 Watts and each pulse carries 0.15 microjoules of energy, 1.5 orders of magnitude greater than that attainable with commercial titanium:sapphire lasers.

Physicists are already able to control the waveform of the emitted pulses with considerable precision, but the new system extends this capacity even further. Exquisite control of the temporal shape of the electromagnetic fields of the light waves is indispensable for their use in the switching of electron flows in condensed matter and in single atoms, and hence for optoelectronics.

Secondly, pulse length must be limited to a few femtoseconds. Previous experiments carried out by the team at the LAP had shown that it is indeed possible to switch electric currents on and off using specially shaped electromagnetic wave packets, i.e. phase-controlled laser pulses (Schiffrin, Nature 2012; Paasch-Colberg, Nature Photonics 2014, Krausz & Stockman, Nature Photonics 2014). However, the maximum switching rates achieved in these experiments were on the order of a few thousands per sec.

This limit has now been spectacularly breached. The new laser is capable of producing tens of millions of high-power pulses per second, and it ushers in a new era in the investigation of ultrafast physical processes. This field focuses on phenomena such as electron motions in molecules and atoms, which can take place on attosecond timescales (an attosecond lasts for a billionth of a billionth of a second, 10 to the minus 18 sec). The ability to generate attosecond laser pulses effectively permits electron motions to be “photographed”.

With the advent of the new laser, atomic photography moves into a new phase. Characterization of rare events in the microcosmos with the Ti:Sa systems now used in attosecond laboratories requires observation times of hours or even days, assuming they can be captured at all. The new instrument improves data acquisition rates by a factor of between 1000 and 100,000, making it possible to study such phenomena in far less time and in much greater detail.

The new generation of lasers could also be utilized to explore the elementary processes that underlie natural phenomena. The new tool will soon be able to generate pulses of high-energy light, with a wavelength of 60 nanometers, in the extreme ultraviolet segment of the spectrum.

Such pulses are sufficiently energetic to excite helium ions, which would allow the frequency of the associated emission to be precisely determined with the frequency-comb technique, for which Prof. Theodor Hänsch won a Nobel Prize in Physics in 2005. This type of laser spectroscopy provides a means of determining the values of constants of nature with extremely high precision.

The thin-disk laser could soon become a standard item of equipment for basic research in attosecond physics and laser spectroscopy. The LAP team has opened a new window on the microcosmos. Thorsten Naeser


Original publication:
O. Pronin, M. Seidel, F. Lücking, J. Brons, E. Fedulova, M. Trubetskov, V. Pervak, A. Apolonski, Th. Udem, and F. Krausz.
High-power multi-megahertz source of waveform-stabilised few-cycle light
Nature Communications, 5 May 2015; doi: 10.1038/ncomms7988.

For further information, contact:

Dr. Oleg Pronin
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich
Phone: +49 (0)89 289 - 14187
E-mail: oleg.pronin@physik.uni-muenchen.de

Prof. Ferenc Krausz
Chair of Experimental Physics,
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich
Laboratory for Attosecond Physics
Director at Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics
Hans-Kopfermann-Str. 1, 85748 Garching, Germany
Phone: +49 (0)89 32 905 - 600 / Fax: - 649
E-mail: ferenc.krausz@mpq.mpg.de

Dr. Olivia Meyer-Streng
Press & Public Relations
Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, Garching, Germany
Phone: +49 (0)89 32 905 - 213
E-mail: olivia.meyer-streng@mpq.mpg.de

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.attoworld.de

Dr. Olivia Meyer-Streng | Max-Planck-Institut für Quantenoptik
Further information:
http://www.mpq.mpg.de/

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Engineering team images tiny quasicrystals as they form
18.08.2017 | Cornell University

nachricht Astrophysicists explain the mysterious behavior of cosmic rays
18.08.2017 | Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A Map of the Cell’s Power Station

18.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Engineering team images tiny quasicrystals as they form

18.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers printed graphene-like materials with inkjet

18.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>