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National Science Foundation Grant to Fund High Intensity Laser

Augustana is part of the multi-institutional team that recently received a Major Research Instrumentation grant from the National Science Foundation

The $692,927 award funds a high-intensity tunable femtosecond laser to be located in the J.R. Macdonald Laboratory at Kansas State University. Collaborating institutions in addition to Augustana and Kansas State include the University of Kansas and Louisiana State University.

Scientifically, the new laser system allows researchers to probe and control the inner workings of atoms and molecules. The infrared (1400-2200 nm) laser pulses produced with the new system will have durations of 10-14 femtoseconds, or only a few cycles of the electric field and faster than the vibrations and rotations of molecules.

Augustana students make multiple trips each year to use the laser facilities at KSU as part of a collaboration dating back to 2004. As part of this work, more than 20 Augustana students have co-authored scientific articles in major peer-reviewed journals. The new laser system extends these opportunities. 

“I’m excited about involving our students in these new experimental possibilities. There are only a few institutions in the world that have this sort of laser, and it is wonderful that we have access for our experiments,” said Dr. Eric Wells, associate professor of Physics and a co-principal investigator on the grant.