Skip to content ↓

Ippen to give Killian lecture today

Ippen
Caption:
Ippen

Professor Erich P. Ippen, the James R. Killian Jr. Faculty Achievement Award winner for 2001-2002 will deliver the Killian Award lecture today.

Ippen, the Elihu Thomson Professor of Electrical Engineering and Physics, will speak on "Femtosecond Optics: Quicker than a Flash" at 4 p.m. in the Wong Auditorium, Building E51.

One of the creators of the field of femtosecond optics, Ippen will talk about how ultrafast laser pulses enable researchers to freeze motion on a microscopic level the way Professor Harold "Doc" Edgerton's electronic strobe captured and froze the high-speed motion of speeding bullets and hummingbird wings, on film.

A femtosecond is one billionth of a microsecond. With lasers, scientists are able to produce extremely bright pulses of light that last for only a few femtoseconds. Nothing large enough to see with the naked eye moves at that timescale, but microscopic phenomena inside materials--vibrations of molecules, motion of electrons and initial steps of chemical and biological reactions--do.

"With femtosecond optics, we are able to study such events for the first time. We also are discovering other promising uses for these ultrashort pulses--novel medical imaging, micro-machining, ultra-precise clocks and broadband optical communications," Ippen said.

The Killian Award was established in 1971 to recognize extraordinary professional accomplishments by full-time members of the MIT faculty. A faculty committee chooses the recipient from candidates nominated by their peers for outstanding contributions to their fields, to MIT and to society.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on March 13, 2002.

Related Topics

More MIT News

Photo of Annauk Olin with her husband and baby

Saving Iñupiaq

Linguistics graduate student Annauk Olin is helping her Alaska Native community preserve their language and navigate the severe impact of climate change.

Read full story