Date Published: November 24, 2014
The Theoretical-Computational Optical Physics and Applied Mathematics Group led by Jerome V. Moloney studies ultrashort laser pulse interaction with gases and condensed media under extreme conditions. Extreme intensities acting over tens to hundreds of femtoseconds strip and accelerate electrons from an atom, creating anisotropic distributions of electrons and ions that eventually equilibrate to form a plasma channel. This channel acts like an extended conducting wire and can direct high-voltage charges and, potentially, lightning strikes. Accompanying this explosive event is the creation of a white light super-continuum source that can be used to perform remote spectroscopy and detect atmospheric molecules and pollutants at multikilometer ranges.
In another activity, Moloney's team is designing new classes of high-power ultrashort-pulsed semiconductor disk lasers using first principles quantum many-body theory, processing these into laser devices and demonstrating them in the laboratory.
Electromagnetic light bullet transports multiple Terawatts of power over hundreds of meters in the atmosphere. Bottom: Snapshots of the bullet at fixed locations along its path. The bullet itself has intensity spikes (in red) and sheds higher harmonic radiation packets in its wake (to its left).