ARL Funded Scientists Win Prestigious Award

January 29, 2009

Two ARL-funded university scientists will share the 2009 Ahmed Zewail Award in Ultrafast Science and Technology.

They are Prof. Margaret Murnane and Prof. Henry Kapteyn of the University of Colorado at Boulder and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Murnane and Kapteyn are funded under the ARO Physics Division in a project to develop the shortest pulses of light ever produced.

This new effort in ultra-short pulses is based on bursts of light that are shorter than the wavelength of visible light. Called attosecond (10-18 sec) science for its goal to reach pulses of light that are a mere 25 attoseconds in length, this new field is expected to allow new kinds of measurements never before made.

Just as the achievement of femtosecond (10-15 seconds) pulses opened a new world of science, attosecond science will lead to a new and unexplored realm. Applications include using short pulses to image through opaque materials, developing laser pulses that can manipulate molecules in ways never before allowed, and to virtually measure electron dynamics within atomic structure.

Examples of these applications are the possibility of creating new technologies that will allow Soldiers to "see through the wall," and to increase the capability of remote sensing to detect minute amounts of explosives from larger distances, allowing for the detection of IEDs.

In 2005, the American Chemical Society established the Ahmed Zewail Award in Ultrafast Science and Technology. This award, which carries a cash prize of $5,000, is intended to recognize outstanding and creative contributions to fundamental discoveries or inventions in ultrafast science and technology in areas of physics, chemistry, biology, or related fields.


Last Update / Reviewed: January 29, 2009