International physics convention to be at KSU

Kansas is in the major leagues when it comes to physics.

Kansas State University will be hosting about 200 scientists for the second International Conference
on Attosecond Physics July 28-August 1, 2009 in Manhattan. Attendees are expected from around the
world including Canada, China, Japan and Europe.

The world of the high energy laser light pulse, which enables researchers to study the interactions of
atoms, molecules and light, includes split seconds of time like the nanosecond, the picosecond and
the femtosecond (which takes research down to the level of whole atoms and molecules.) Enter the
attosecond, which is one billion billionth of a second. (One attosecond to one second is like one
second to the age of the universe.) Laser pulses of such an infinitesimal increment of time excite the
atom, enabling physicists to observe and understand the activities and processes of the even smaller
Since electronic motion plays a fundamental role in physical, chemical and biological processes, by
manipulating attosecond pulses scientists may eventually be able to control chemical reactions.
Attosecond science is still in its infancy. To reach the goal of actual applications, further progress in
the technology of generating and manipulating attosecond pulses is needed, according to Dr. C.D. Lin,
K-State distinguished professor of physics and local chair of the conference. Since KSU is one of the
leaders in this field, the only institution in North America that had produced attosecond pulses so far,
it was decided that the second conference of this series be held there.

According to its website, KSU boasts one of the largest group of atomics, molecular and optical physics
(AMOP) faculty at U.S. universities. In 2006, K-State AMOP physics was ranked 14th in the U.S., by the
U.S. News and World Report.

The AMOP program is organized around the J. R. McDonald Lab (JRML) which includes the recent
addition of the Kansas Light Source, a laser lab which has helped put JRML at the forefront of ultrafast,
intense laser science. The research in JRML is supported by the U.S. Department of Energy in the
amount of about three million dollars annually.

“It is great if Kansans realize that we are actually competing with big institutions from big cities all over
the world,” says Lin.

Source: Ad Astra Kansas News, Spring 2009