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Optics Center to Build New Laser Lab

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EUGENE, Ore., July 26 -- A $510,500 grant from the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust will help scientists at the University of Oregon's Center for Optics reach a new level in the quest to manipulate light and matter at the atomic level.

The grant, plus a $600,000 investment by the university, will build and equip a research lab quiet and clean enough to allow researchers to probe and control the behavior of atoms, semiconductors and nanometer-thin metal films.

The university's new Laboratory for Quantum Control, the first of its kind in Oregon, will enable the group to carry out original experiments at an internationally competitive level, said physics professor Michael Raymer. He and Andrew Marcus, associate professor of chemistry, are the new lab's principal investigators.

The temperature-controlled laboratory will be equipped with two laser systems that will allow scientists to probe the structure and dynamics of matter and light. Using new insights from these studies, they hope to conduct research that leads to increased computer capability, improved optical fiber communications, control of chemical reactions and new forms of electronics.

Leading-edge research in this area involves controlling atoms and molecules by using ultrashort light pulses with durations comparable to the shortest light pulses available -- as short as 10 to 14 "femtoseconds" (one-hundredth of a millionth of a millionth of a second). These can be provided by recently developed laser technology, which will be the centerpiece of the laboratory.

When complete in early 2005, the lab will house the custom-built laser systems and the lasers currently used in Marcus' labs.

The Center for Optics contributes to ONAMI, the Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute, a collaboration involving the University of Oregon, Oregon State University, Portland State University, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, the state of Oregon and private industry.

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Jul 2004
atomsBasic ScienceCommunicationsLaboratory for Quantum Controlnanometer-thin metal filmsNews & FeaturesopticssemiconductorsUniversity of Oregon Center for Opticslasers

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