Researchers set record with world’s shortest laser pulse
Published: Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, September 5, 2012 17:09
UCF is now home to the world’s shortest laser pulse, a 67-attosecond pulse of extreme ultraviolet light that will allow scientists to further study the process of quantum mechanics. The pulse will represent the first time the U.S. has set the record in attosecond pulse technology. It is also the first breakthrough in the field within the past four years.
As quantum mechanics is the study of physics at a microscopic level, the creation of the laser pulse will allow for further investigation into the creation of atoms and chemical processes.
“Dr. Chang’s success in making ever-shorter light pulses helps open a new door to a previously hidden world, where we can watch electrons move in atoms and molecules and follow chemical reactions as they take place,” Michael Johnson, dean of UCF College of Sciences, said in a recent press release. “It is astounding to imagine that we may now be able to watch quantum mechanics in process.”
This achievement was made through a research team spearheaded by professor Zenghu Chang. The project implemented funds given by the Department of Defense’s Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative and the National Science Foundation in order to create the laser pulse without specialized equipment, such as a football stadium-sized particle accelerator (or synchrotron).
Instead, the team was able to create equipment that utilized small spaces and, in so doing, created a new technique: double optical grating. This technique would “allow [for] extreme ultraviolet light to be cut off in a manner that concentrates the maximum amount of energy in the shortest possible pulse of light,” according to a recent press release.
Chang was also responsible for creating a new camera, the Phase Retrieval by Omega Oscillation Filtering, in order to further measure the light pulse.
Other members of the UCF team included research assistant professor Kun Zhao, Qi Zhang, Michael Chini, Yi Wu and Xiaowei Wang.