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Ultrafast Lasers Laboratory

Ultrafast Lasers Lab at the Materials Characterization Laboratory:

A 1500 square foot lasers laboratory built, shared, and maintained by the following research groups:

Gopalan group (Materials Science) with a research focus on Ultrafast Nonlinear Optical Microscopy and Spectroscopy of Electronic Complex Oxides and Semiconductor Metalattices

Liu Group (Electrical Engineering)  on Ultrafast Holography and Imaging

Kim Group (Chemical Engineering) on Nonlinear Difference Frequency Generation of Surfaces and Biomaterials

Rechtsman Group (Physics) on Topological Photonic Crystals

Xingjie Ni (Electrical Engineering) on Tunable Metamaterials, Quantum Sources and Optical Cloaks

Badding Group (Chemistry) on Infrared Fiber Lasers


The facility includes several femtosecond laser systems from Spectra Physics as well as Coherent.  In addition, the facility has picosecond and nanosecond laser systems.  Wavelength range covered is from ultraviolet to far infrared and Terahertz.

Nonlinear Optical Microscopy

Gopalan group has developed optical second harmonic generation microscopy:

This is used to probe polar and non-centrosymmetric materials.


X-ray Diffraction Microscopy and Spectroscopy

We are regular users of Synchrotron Xray techniques at the

Advanced Photon Source at the Argonne National Laboratory

Our favorite current techniques include Coherent Bragg Rod Analysis (COBRA), Hard Xray Nanoprobe (HXN) and Ultrafast Xray Diffraction Microscopy on 100ps time scales.

We have also recently become users of Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) at Stanford


Electron Microscopy on the Picometer Scale

We are heavy users of the latest Aberration-Corrected Scanning Transmission Electron Microscopy (AC-STEM) at Penn State.

In a recent publication in Nature Communications, we have brought together imaging of crystals on 5-10pm scale with density functional theory.  As a comparison, a hydrogen atom is only 53 pm!


Scanning Probe Microscopy

We regularly use Atomic Force and Piezoelectric Force Microscopies both at Penn State and at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Our group was the first to quantitatively simulate piezoelectric force microscopy and recently revealed the origin of the lateral and vertical PFM signals.