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Margaret M. Murnane

Margaret M. Murnane
Professor of Physics and Electrical and Computing Engineering
University of Colorado

Plenary Lecture: How to watch atoms sing, electrons hop and molecules dance - using fast light pulses to observe and control nature


In recent years there has been a revolution in the field of ultrafast science. Visible light pulses of only a few optical cycles in duration can now be generated from a simple laser. By amplifying these light pulses to high powers, visible laser light can be up-converted into laser-like, coherent, ultrafast x-ray beams. The femtosecond (10-15 s) or even attosecond (10-18 s) duration of these x-ray bursts are fast enough to capture the complex, interwoven dance of electrons in molecules and materials. Moreover, the laser-like, coherent, x-ray beams can be used as the light source for new high-resolution microscopes that replace lenses by computer algorithms.

Biographical Sketch

Margaret Murnane is a Fellow of JILA and is a member of the faculty in the Department of Physics and Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Colorado. She received her B.S and M.S. degrees from University College Cork, Ireland, and her Ph.D. degree from the University of California at Berkeley. She remained at Berkeley for one year as a postdoctoral fellow, before joining the faculty at Washington State University in 1990. In 1996, Professor Murnane moved to the University of Michigan, and in 1999 she moved to the University of Colorado.

Prof. Murnane's research interests have been in ultrafast optical and x-ray science and technology. She runs a joint research group with her husband, Professor Henry Kapteyn, as well as a high tech laser company, KMLabs. She is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, the Optical Society of America, and the AAAS. She was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2004, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2006. She was also awarded a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship in 2000. Prof. Murnane is very interested in increasing diversity in science and engineering.