Advancing the uses of laser technology

CU-Boulder professors Margaret Murnane and Henry Kapteyn lead an interdisciplinary research group at JILA, a joint institute of the university and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, where they have made groundbreaking strides in laser science by developing new ultra-fast lasers and X-ray sources for experiments in physics, chemistry, materials science, and engineering. Their pioneering research resulted in the development of ultra-fast optical and coherent soft X-ray sources.

Responding to widespread interest in their laser design, Murnane and Kapteyn founded KMLabs—a start-up company—in 1994. They have won numerous prestigious awards for their critical advances in the science and technology of high harmonic generation.

Using extreme nonlinear optics, the laser beams can be converted into the “hard” X-ray region of the spectrum to produce coherent, laser-like X-ray beams in a compact setup. Coherent X-ray beams can be used for many applications in nanoscience and nanotechnology, such as the development of next-generation microscopes that do not need lenses.