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The 2012 Willis E. Lamb Award for Laser Science and Quantum Optics

Awarded January 5, 2012, at the 42nd Winter Colloquium on the Physics of Quantum Electronics.

Henry C. Kapteyn, University of Colorado

For pioneering contributions to ultrashort pulse generation with application to x-ray physics.


Dr. Henry C. Kapteyn has been a Professor at the Department of Physics and a Fellow of JILA, at the University of Colorado since 1999. Previously he was an Associate Professor in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department at the University of Michigan, and an Assistant and then Associate Professor of Physics at Washington State University. He received his Ph.D. in Physics from the University of California at Berkeley in 1989 in the field of x-ray and short-wavelength laser physics. His work at WSU, done in collaboration with Prof. Margaret Murnane, resulted in the development of a new generation of lasers that make it straightforward to produce light pulse of less than ten femtoseconds duration.

At Michigan, he continued this research in demonstrating novel techniques for generating short-duration light pulses in the deep-ultraviolet and soft x-ray regions of the spectrum. This work opens up a new region of the electromagnetic spectrum to fundamental studies using coherent ultrashort light pulses. He is currently applying these sources to studies of dynamic processes in atomic, molecular, and materials systems, as well as for technological applications such as nanoscale-resolution imaging. This work has resulted in a number of advances in fundamental science, including the first demonstration of coherent manipulation of atoms on the attosecond time scales, and the first studies of “radiation femtochemistry” where the dynamics of a molecular exposed to ionizing radiation were for the first time followed in real-time.

Prof. Kapteyn has received a number of awards including the National Science Foundation Young Investigator award in 1992, the Optical Society of America’s Adolph Lomb Medal in 1993, and as co-recipient with Prof. Margaret Murnane of the 2009 Ahmed Zewail Award in Ultrafast Science and Technology of the American Chemical Society, the 2010 R. W. Wood Prize of the Optical Society of America, and the 2010 Arthur L Schawlow Prize in Laser Science of the American Physical Society. Prof. Kapteyn is a Fellow of the Optical Society of America (OSA), the American Physical Society (APS), and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Bio provided by Prof. Kapteyn, 2012.

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