Video: Margaret Murnane on ultrashort-pulse lasers
Her groundbreaking research in femtosecond lasers helped to fuel exciting research developments leading to today's commercial applications.
Margaret Murnane is a Fellow of JILA and a Professor in the Department of Physics and of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Colorado. She received her BS and MS degrees from University College Cork, Ireland, and her PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1989. She joined the faculty at Washington State University in 1990, moved to the University of Michigan in 1996, and to Colorado in 1999. Murnane and her group use coherent beams of laser and x-ray light to capture the fastest dynamics in molecules and materials at the nanoscale.
With her research partner and husband Henry Kapteyn, she has made important contributions to the development of coherent x-ray sources and helped establish the foundations of attosecond science. In the 1990s, they led the development of new ultrafast laser technologies using Ti:sapphire to generate unprecedented high peak power pulses only a few optical cycles in duration. They then did pioneering work in developing an understanding of extreme nonlinear optics to efficiently upshift femtosecond laser light into the soft X-ray region of the spectrum.
She was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2004, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2006. She received a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in 2000, and the Ahmed Zewail Award of the ACS in 2009. In 2010 Margaret Murnane and Henry Kapteyn were awarded both the Arthur Schawlow Prize of the American Physical Society, and the R. W. Wood Prize of the Optical Society of America. They were recognized for their advances in the science and technology of high harmonics generation, with particular relevance to subfemtosecond pulse generation and attosecond-scale physics.