Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

K-State physics lab becoming a frontrunner in ultrafast laser research

29.10.2008
Could lead to innovations benefiting medicine, energy and other technologies

For decades, the J.R. Macdonald Laboratory at Kansas State University has been known worldwide as a center for atomic collision physics using particle accelerators. Now, researchers at the lab are working toward making it known for ultrafast laser science.

The Macdonald Lab is the main part of the K-State atomic, molecular and optical physics program, which has ranked in the top 20 in the nation out of all such university programs, according to U.S. News and World Report. In recent years the lab has shifted its research focus to ultrafast laser science. This change in emphasis was marked with the installation of the Kansas Light Source, an intense ultrafast laser, a few years ago.

"There are advantages to both ultrafast laser research and accelerator research," said Itzik Ben-Itzhak, Macdonald Lab director and K-State professor of physics. "But the laser gives you the ability to control a reaction occurring within a molecule and not just to observe that phenomenon. Just imagine what opportunities such control could lead to in molecular engineering."

In a nutshell, he said, this is the key advantage for probing matter with lasers rather than collisions, which are nearly impossible to control.

The basic physics research at K-State's Macdonald Lab could one day enable researchers to tailor molecules to improve health care, energy and security. Ben-Itzhak said that the Macdonald Lab's work to investigate these fundamental processes and find out the optimal laser characteristics -- such as intensity, pulse duration and spectrum -- is the first step on a long road.

"We're not trying to be solely a laser technology lab," Ben-Itzhak said. "Rather, we are interested in studying laser-matter interactions on the atomic and molecular scale. However, in order to be in the forefront of this rapidly evolving field, we have to have the right balance between developing our laser technology, i.e. instrumental capabilities, and immediately interrogating matter with them."

The Macdonald Lab includes nine K-State faculty experts and brings in $2.5 million of U.S. Department of Energy support annually.

"If you exclude national laboratories, we have the biggest support within our program area in the Department of Energy," Ben-Itzhak said.

Along with Ben-Itzhak, the department of physics faculty include: Zenghu Chang, professor; Lew Cocke, distinguished professor; Brett DePaola, professor; Brett Esry, professor; Vinod Kumarappan, assistant professor; Chii-Dong Lin, distinguished professor; Igor Litvinyuk, assistant professor; and Uwe Thumm, professor. Research faculty include: Kevin Carnes, associate research professor; Charles Fehrenbach, research assistant professor; and An Thu Le, research assistant professor. Also included are atomic, molecular and optical physics program faculty Kristan Corwin, associate professor, and Brian Washburn, assistant professor.

These researchers leverage the DOE funding and the infrastructure it provides to bring in additional funding from the National Science Foundation, the Army Research Office and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, among other sources. All together, the atomic, molecular and optical physics group brings in more than $4.7 million per year in grants.

In addition to the Macdonald Lab members, the Kansas Light Source also is used by others at K-State. For example, Shuting Lei, associate professor of industrial and manufacturing systems engineering, and his group members from the department use the lasers to drill holes because they are much cooler, temperature-wise, than using a drill press.

"Our goal is to be one of the top ultrafast labs for atomic, molecular and optical physics in the world. We want to draw people from around the world," Ben-Itzhak said. "What can we provide that will bring them here? We need to be an environment that is welcoming and friendly to other researchers. But they wouldn't be coming here unless there's also strong research and advanced laser technology."

Ben-Itzhak said the lab is currently suffering a bit from its own success. The switch to ultrafast laser science has generated such a demand for laser time that the laser resources available are no longer sufficient. In fact, the productivity of the lab is now limited primarily by laser time, he said. That's why the lab is working to acquire another laser that can provide new research opportunities in addition to relieving the logjam on laser time.

The atomic, molecular and optical physics group is also working to elevate the Macdonald Lab's profile in ultrafast laser science, which includes serving as host to an international conference in summer 2009 that will draw scientists from around the world.

"People from all over the world came to do atomic collision research at Kansas State University in the past," Ben-Itzhak said. "Now the question is, can we attract them to come for ultrafast laser science?"

Itzik Ben-Itzhak | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.phys.ksu.edu

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Structured light and nanomaterials open new ways to tailor light at the nanoscale
23.04.2018 | Academy of Finland

nachricht On the shape of the 'petal' for the dissipation curve
23.04.2018 | Lobachevsky University

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: BAM@Hannover Messe: innovative 3D printing method for space flight

At the Hannover Messe 2018, the Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und-prüfung (BAM) will show how, in the future, astronauts could produce their own tools or spare parts in zero gravity using 3D printing. This will reduce, weight and transport costs for space missions. Visitors can experience the innovative additive manufacturing process live at the fair.

Powder-based additive manufacturing in zero gravity is the name of the project in which a component is produced by applying metallic powder layers and then...

Im Focus: Molecules Brilliantly Illuminated

Physicists at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics, which is jointly run by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, have developed a high-power laser system that generates ultrashort pulses of light covering a large share of the mid-infrared spectrum. The researchers envisage a wide range of applications for the technology – in the early diagnosis of cancer, for instance.

Molecules are the building blocks of life. Like all other organisms, we are made of them. They control our biorhythm, and they can also reflect our state of...

Im Focus: Spider silk key to new bone-fixing composite

University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.

Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.

Im Focus: Writing and deleting magnets with lasers

Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...

Im Focus: Gamma-ray flashes from plasma filaments

Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.

The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum Technology for Advanced Imaging – QUILT

24.04.2018 | Information Technology

AWI researchers measure a record concentration of microplastic in arctic sea ice

24.04.2018 | Earth Sciences

Complete skin regeneration system of fish unraveled

24.04.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>