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Published: 2022-11-09

Unique laser system inaugurated in Umeå

NEWS A unique laser system with higher peak power and shorter pulse duration than most other lasers in the world is now inaugurated at the Department of Physics at Umeå University.

Text: Sara-Lena Brännström

The new laser will help to study electron processes in atoms and molecules, and thereby be able to answer questions associated with processes on very short time-scales.

Laszlo Veisz and his research group have designed and built the unique system.

"The new Light Wave Synthesizer system is the most powerful in Sweden, and one of the most powerful lasers in the world," says Laszlo Veisz, professor in Physics at Umeå University.

We will likely be able to observe phenomena and processes that we could not imagine before

More specifically it delivers the highest peak power (100 TW) in combination with very short laser pulse duration. The time span for one laser pulse is 4.3 femtoseconds. One femtosecond is the time if you divide one second by one billion and then by one million.

With such short laser pulses, that still are very powerful, meaning that they contain a large number of photons, the researchers will be able to generate the shortest available x-ray flashes to study the physical phenomena at the fastest time scale that we are aware of, the motion of electrons in atoms, molecules and ions.

The short laser pulses can also be used to generate very short electron bunches. These electron bunches can in their turn enable studies of completely new phenomena with a sub-atomic spatial as well as temporal resolution not available nowadays.

Home-made system

"The interesting part when pushing the physical boundaries like we do now, is that we will be able to study new physics, and likely observe phenomena and processes that we could not imagine before," says Laszlo Veisz and continues:

"It has been a very hard work to build the system, it is almost completely home-made, and assembled by my group as such a system is commercially not available. We also have had great input from my collaborators world-wide, for example Ferenc Krausz, and his team at Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics."

The project also has had financial support from the University, the faculty, the Kempe foundation, as well as from Vetenskapsrådet and Knut och Alice Wallenberg foundation.

"Now we look forward to start using the system. Studying the processes by filming for example the electron motion in atoms after ionization, or tracing chemical reactions in real-time, so called attochemistry are some of the ideas we have and which I look forward to the most, " says Laszlo Veisz. 

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