News from the J.R. Macdonald Laboratory
Pat Richard, Director

The atomic, molecular, and optical physics program in the JRML continues to undergo adjustments with the retirement of two long-time faculty members.  Professor Tom Gray, Associate Lab Director for Laboratory Operations since 1989, who has been at KSU since 1975, retired in July 2003, and Professor Siegbert Hagmann, who has been at KSU since 1979, retired in June 2003.  Tom’s leadership in the construction of the LINAC and in the outstanding coordination of the general repair, maintenance and upgrades of the lab is appreciated by all and will be missed.  We are in the very fortunate situation that Associate Research Professor Kevin Carnes has been preparing to take over the position following Tom’s retirement.  I think Kevin is already comfortable in the new role and doing great.  Siegbert, although retiring from KSU, is not retiring from physics.  He has taken a position in Germany and is presently working on atomic collision physics experiments at GSI and enjoying his forte of measuring complex multi-particle reaction product dynamics.

As reported in last year’s Newsletter, the JRML AMOP program swung into full gear in the area of ultra-short pulse, ultra-high intensity laser research with the construction of the Kansas Light Source, KLS, by Professor Zenghu Chang and his group.  The 25 fs TiS laser has become the leading user facility in the lab.  Every experimental faculty member is involved in some use of the KLS which operates as a multi beam station facility with up to 5 simultaneously delivered beams. 

In an effort to take further advantage of this new area of research we hired Kristan Corwin as an Assistant Professor in August 2003.  Kristan comes to us from Colorado NIST and was a student of Nobel Laureate Carl Wieman at the University of Colorado.  Kristan is setting up a lab she calls LUMOS which stands for Lasers for Ultrafast Metrology and Optical Spectroscopy.  She plans to work on precision frequency standards for optical systems and become involved in the JRML research program.  Her lab is in a new room built within the so-called “square room,” which previously housed tandem beam lines that have been moved to the LINAC hall.

We have also hired Igor Litvanyuk as an Assistant Professor who will join the faculty in January 2004.  Igor comes to us from Paul Corkum’s group at the NRC of Canada in Ottawa.  He received his Ph.D. from Florida State University under the direction of Professor Michael Kasha.  Igor plans to be a heavy user of the KLS in the study of laser-molecule interactions in the femtosecond time regime.

This is the year we have written a three year proposal for the renewal of our DOE umbrella grant, which for the last three years was funded at about 2.45 M$ per year.  A team of four outside panelists, together with Dr. Eric Rohlfing and Dr. Dave Ederer from DOE, spent three days in Manhattan reviewing the program.  The new funding resulting from this proposal and review is scheduled to begin in February 2004.  At this time we are awaiting the recommendations.

There will be some additional changes in the upcoming year.  I have decided that I should not overextend my stay as Lab Director and therefore decided to take a sabbatical in the spring of 2004 and then take advantage of the KSU phased retirement program.  I am looking forward to this new phase of my life as a university faculty member.  I have been PI of the DOE grant since 1974 and have been Director of the JRML since 1984.  These have been wonderful years for me in which I have had the pleasure of working with so many great people in the JRML, the Physics Department, the University, and the Department of Energy.  I treasure all the friendships that I have made through the years.  One of the things that I am extremely pleased with is that Professor Lew Cocke will be taking over as JRML Director and PI of the DOE umbrella grant.

Our editor, Mick O’Shea is going to cut me off soon if I rattle too much longer.  I can’t stop, however, without saying that the AMOP group has done some outstanding new physics during the last year.  Lew’s group has done definitive experiments on the electron rescattering problem in intense short pulse laser-molecule interactions.  Together with Professor C. D. Lin’s group they published the experimental results and theoretical treatment in Phys. Rev. Letters.  Other breakthroughs include Zenghu’s and CD’s work on ionization suppression and HHG extensions in laser-molecule interactions.  Professor Itzik Ben-Itzhak’s group has performed one of the first laser-molecular ion experiments and Professor Brett DePaola’s group is pioneering an investigation of the dynamic behavior of atomic states in a Magneto Optical Trap using a method called STIRAP.  My group is getting bold in attempting to measure image states in carbon nanotubes by a laser pump-probe technique, and will continue collaborations with Professor Theo Zouros from Crete on ion-electron collisions.  Of further note, the research project of Timur Osipov, a graduate student of Lew Cocke’s, on the isomerization of acetylene to vinylidene was featured in the August issue of Physics Today.  Look it up.