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Ultrafast Lasers and Optics for Experimentalists

James David Pickering


The use of ultrafast lasers has expanded beyond use by specialist laser physicists and is increasingly commonplace in both physical and life sciences, where the high intensities, broad bandwidths, and short pulse durations make them ideal for investigating a wide range of chemical and physical phenomena. Working with these ultrashort femtosecond laser pulses requires some special care when compared to other laser systems, and this book provides an ideal starting point for the non-specialist to gain the necessary knowledge to start effectively working with ultrafast lasers and optics. The book walks the reader through the relevant parts of ultrashort pulse physics, pulse generation, and pulse characterisation, before discussing how to practically build an optical setup and manipulate these pulses. Many aspects of the practicalities of working with optics and lasers that are often considered assumed knowledge by experienced campaigners are discussed in detail. Aimed specifically at non-specialists, the emphasis is placed on intuitive, qualitative understanding of the concepts. The fundamental aim is that students starting a project or PhD in a laser group, can pick this book up and quickly get up to speed with the fundamentals of ultrafast laser physics that enable effective laboratory working.

About Editors

James David Pickering is an experimental physical chemist currently working as a postdoctoral research associate at Aarhus University. Originally from Essex, he attended Notley High School and Braintree Sixth Form and obtained his MChem in Chemistry at Jesus College, University of Oxford, and his Ph.D. in Chemistry at Aarhus University. Following this, he returned to the UK and worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Oxford, where he also taught extensively in physical chemistry and mathematics. His research interests lie in the application of ultrafast laser spectroscopy to real-world chemical problems.

James is a committed and passionate scientific educator and teaches extensively across the physical natural sciences. Most recently, he has taught physical chemistry and mathematics to undergraduates in teaching lectureships at the University of Oxford; and has previously worked as a teaching fellow at the University of Leicester. He is an associate fellow of the Higher Education Academy. 

Table of Contents

Foreword (by Michael Burt)
Part I Fundamentals
1 Lasers
2 Laser Light and Laser Beams
3 Dispersion
4 Non-linear Optics
5 Generating Ultrashort Pulses
6 Characterising Ultrashort Pulses
Part II Practical Ultrafast Optics
7 Optical Elements
8 Building a Beamline
9 Case Study: Pump-Probe Beamline
A Electromagnetic Waves
B Useful Resources
C Suppliers


Hardback ISBN: 9780750336574

Ebook ISBN: 9780750336598

DOI: 10.1088/978-0-7503-3659-8

Publisher: Institute of Physics Publishing


Rarely do I see a proposal where the book is well and truly needed. This book is that exception"

Professor Andrew M. Ellis, School of Chemistry, University of Leicester, UK

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