The ability to generate and manipulate ultrashort pulses of laser
light is a relatively recent achievement. At CAOUS we can generate
intense laser pulses as short as 30 femtoseconds*, a timescale that
is essentially beyond ordinary human experience; ultrafast. This
is, however, the fundamental timescale for many atomic, electronic,
and molecular processes. The Ultrafast group at Swinburne is made
up of two main areas: Ultrafast Spectroscopy
and High-order Harmonic Generation (HHG).
Both of these use ultrafast pulses of laser radiation to induce
linear and nonlinear effects in atoms, molecules and semiconductor
In Ultrafast Spectroscopy we
use these pulses of light to study dynamic processes that are
of interest and significance in physics, chemistry, and biology.
Part of our work involves developing new experimental techniques to provide access to the dynamics and mechanisms of processes in complex systems otherwise unresolvable. We are currently studying semiconductor quantum dots and quantum
wells, light harvesting complexes and molecules involved in photosynthesis, and other
photoactive molecules. These materials are of particular interest
for potential light emitting devices, photovoltaic devices, quantum information and
for understanding the fundamental processes occurring. For more detail on these projects go to the Ultrafast spectroscopy page.
In High-order Harmonic Generation we are
developing a system where we use the ultrashort pulses of laser
light to generate coherent pulses of extreme ultraviolet (XUV) and
soft X-ray radiation. This project is part of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coherent X-ray Science, and will eventually provide an X-ray source that will be used to image biologically
*There are more femtoseconds in one second than there have
been seconds in the past 30 million years