Laser physics, optics and photonics group

Department of Quantum Science & Technology

The Laser Physics Centre was established in 1987 as the result of the amalgamation of two existing School pursuits, together with the establishment of a new laser-based laboratory. In addition, the historical cross-campus links with the laser activities of the Department of Physics in the Faculties provided an added dimension to the Centre. The result was a synergistic grouping of laser physics activities founded on a wide range of complementary laser facilities, thereby creating one of the largest laboratories of this type in the country.

Today, the Laser Physics, Optics and Photonics group undertakes research and training at the highest international level on a range of topics with a balance between fundamental, strategic and applied laser-based research. The research program spans many of the most exciting aspects of contemporary laser physics, optics and photonics.

Research of more strategic nature includes work on complex beam architectures, material phase transformation, laser at relativistic intensities, optical guides, laser trapping and on nonlinear optical materials for photonics. Applied research includes the development of novel high-power lasers, parametric oscillators and amplifier; development of laser material processing, ultrafast laser cleaning, ultrafast laser dentistry, laser printing, techniques for waveguide, photonic crystal and other photonic devices.

Laser processing is a cutting-edge technique designed to texture, enhance surfaces in a way not possible with any other method. It is a non-contact process, which does not require the use of chemicals or abrasives, thus eliminating problems of chemical toxicity, corrosive residues, erosion and blurring of surface detail.

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Laser Cleaning is a cutting-edge technique designed for removal of contamination layers from solid surfaces by irradiating the surface with a laser beam. It is a non-contact process, which does not require the use of chemicals or abrasives, eliminating problems of chemical toxicity, corrosive residues, erosion and erasure of surface structure.

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The quest for recreating the high pressure and high temperature which regulate the processes inside the stars and planets is a driving force for our studies of Warm Dense Matter, a non-equilibrium state of matter between solid and plasma: it has high, solid-state density, and low plasma temperature of 1 eV – 10 eV. The extreme conditions produced with high-power ultrafast lasers can serve as a novel microscopic laboratory for high pressure and temperature studies and materials processing.

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Dentistry is subject to an increasing demand driven by population health, gum diseases, aesthetics and longer life expectancy. Our ultrashort pulse laser system, with appropriate digital controls, allows pain free laser tooth cutting and is able to deliver the next technological advance in dentistry. Femtosecond lasers can drill through all types of materials. Ultrashort femtosecond lasers offer irrigation-free and anaesthetic-free dentistry and an unmatched level of precision.

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It has been almost thirty years since the so-called non-diffracting propagation of electromagnetic waves was proposed. Some of the characteristic features of this effect are the division of the total power of the beam in several concentric rings, restricting the reachable maximum at the central ring, and the shrinkage of the central beam core, focusing this limited power in a tiny area. Non-diffracting optical quasi-Bessel beams provide an opportunity to construct optical fields of complex architecture.

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Photonic devices based on a number of platforms are the topics of active research. These platforms are based on high nonlinear glasses such as Chalcogenide, Silicon, Tellurites as well as functional materials such as Germanium, polymers, rare earth doped materials. The applications are optical signal processing, detectors, and integrated optical devices.

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For industry

To deliver precision, expertise and techniques to customer specifications with short lead times and at a palatable price to empower researchers, start-ups, and industrial users in rapid iterations of experimental setups and/or product development cycles.

We aim to give you what you need for your R&D with minimal required involvement on your side beyond the full specifications, and we operate much more on this basis than simply hiring out our tools by the hour which is impractical for the vast majority of request.

Please browse our website and feel free to contact us regarding any of our services, processes and capabilities and how they may be of benefit to your research, project or device/material development.

We look forward to working with you soon.

Steve Madden and Ludovic Rapp

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Updated:  24 May 2022/ Responsible Officer:  Director, RSPhys/ Page Contact:  Physics Webmaster