Structured Ultrafast Light Beams for fundamental science and applications in micromachining, particle acceleration, integrated photonics, and photo-chemistry

  • Supervisor: Prof. Pascal Kockaert
  • Research center: OPERA photonique
  • Research start date: 01.10.2021


The proposed project, entitled [StructULB], Structured Ultrafast Light Beams (or Structured light at ULB), is a project based on fundamental and applied physics to study ultrafast light beams that have been structured temporally or spatio-temporally and their applications. The goal of the project is to expand the study of spatio-temporally structured light from its currently somewhat limited scope of exotic laser-plasma interactions and niche applications towards advanced laser processing, integrated photonics, and coherently controlled chemistry. The project topics take advantage of the combined specialized skills of the fellow and the host group, laying the foundation for a new diverse research program.

The three scientific work packages are predominantly linked to photonics and Atomic, Molecular, and Optical (AMO) physics. However, within those broad fields of physics, the project spans multiple sub-fields, both fundamental and applied. The first work package [WP1] aims to improve the fundamental understanding of ultrafast arbitrarily shaped freely propagating laser pulses and their application to laser processing and particle acceleration. The second work package [WP2] studies nonlinear optics of structured pulses in multi-mode guided structures such as semiconductor nano-waveguides and graded-index fibers. The third work package [WP3] links optical physics and chemistry, by involving temporally shaping of infrared laser pulses on the picosecond time scale in order to drive molecular ensembles to dark states – in cooperation with the Spectroscopy, Quantum Chemistry and Atmospheric Remote Sensing (SQUARES) group at ULB. Hence, while the common thread is ultrafast structured laser pulses, the project has strong implications on chemistry and multiple sub-fields of AMO physics.


Spencer W. Jolly was born and raised in the USA, attending University of Michigan and University of Texas before moving to Europe in 2014. He attended University of Hamburg (at the DESY campus) for his PhD in physics, and afterwards spend two years in Paris as a PostDoc with Fabien Quéré at the CEA.