My academic research focused on ultrafast science - observing and controlling processes on timescales of femtoseconds or faster (1 fs = 10-15 s). Along the way I delved into high-power lasers, ultrashort pulse characterization, optical engineering, supercontinuum generation, photonic crystal fibers, ultrafast x-ray generation and characterization.
Ultrashort pulses have durations below 100 fs. The attraction of such pulses is that
- they offer unprecedented temporal resolution - the ability to observe and influence processes on the natural timescales of electronic and nuclear motion, and
- they allow energy to be highly concentrated in space and time so that, for example, a pulse produced by a table-sized laser can have a peak power equal to the total consumption of Great Britain, and an intensity high enough to tear an electron from an atom.
I have worked on several topic within ultrafast optics:
- the generation of ultrashort coherent extreme ultraviolet and soft x-ray radiation using high-order harmonic generation,
- spectral broadening of laser pulses through the dynamic nonlinear interplay of supercontinuum generation,
- isolated attosecond pulse generation,
- ultrashort pulse characterization, and
- pulse shaping and control through scattering media.