NSF Awards UMD $1.6M for New Laser System

University of Maryland Professor Howard Milchberg received a $1.61 million Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to upgrade his lab’s high-power laser system. The grant will allow Milchberg, who has appointments in physics and electrical and computer engineering, to build a new system to be used in a wide range of ultra-high-intensity laser experiments. The 100 terawatt system will be the highest intensity laser on the east coast of the U.S.

With the new system, students and postdocs will have access to essential training in running and maintaining a state-of-the-art high intensity laser as well as hands-on experience in performing and analyzing experiments, all valuable skills applicable to future careers in science, industry and national defense.

Experiments conducted in Milchberg’s lab focuse on the development and application of advanced charged particle accelerators, intense laser pulse propagation, and ultra-high field nonlinear optics and plasma physics. The new laser system is expected to have the capacity to accelerate electron beams to over one billion electron volts, corresponding to nearly the speed of light. These electron beams will enable a new class of tabletop X-ray and gamma ray light sources and applications. In addition, the increased laser energy of the upgraded system will allow for the development of efficient sources of radiation in hard-to-access wavelength regimes, such as terahertz radiation, as well as the study of laboratory astrophysics.

Milchberg is the principal investigator for this award. Co-principal investigators include Distinguished University Professor of Physics James Drake (who also has a joint appointment in the Institute for Physical Science and Technology), Institute for Physical Science and Technology Professor Wendell Hill, Physics Professor Ki-Yong Kim, and Institute for Research in Electronics and Applied Physics Research Scientist Marc Swisdak.


Media Relations Contact: Abby Robinson, 301-405-5845, abbyr@umd.edu

Writer: Darcy Long

About the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences

The College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences at the University of Maryland educates more than 8,000 future scientific leaders in its undergraduate and graduate programs each year. The college's 10 departments and six interdisciplinary research centers foster scientific discovery with annual sponsored research funding exceeding $250 million.