ERC Advanced Grant Ilday

A Crystal of Light Pulses for a Universal Material-Processing Laser

A super tightly spaced periodic array of laser pulses to cut, weld, or 3D print materials.

Lasers are ubiquitously used to cut, drill, 3D print materials and enable long-distance communications, quantum processes, and precision measurements. Material-processing lasers remain divided into CW, nanosecond- and ultrafast-pulsed, each excelling and falling short differently.

Ömer İlday proposes to overcome this categorisation by developing a universal laser that can remove any material, from metals to living tissue, at near quantum mechanical limits of efficiency, but the same laser will also perform 3D printing or tissue welding by switching to quasi-CW operation.

To do so, he aims to create a laser unlike any other – one that generates a ‘crystal of light’ – a perfectly periodic array of ultrafast pulses self-organised by their mutual interactions. His proposed approach, second modelocking, was born from an analogy between self-organisation in laser physics and second quantisation that underlies modern theoretical physics. The pulses within this ‘crystal of light’ will be strongly correlated, possibly forming a single coherent waveform. If so, they could have record-low quantum noise with a disruptive potential for not only material processing, laser surgery, and dentistry but also microwave, THz generation, beyond-5G communications, and quantum technologies.

Grantee Professor F. Ömer İlday

F. Ömer İlday came to Bochum in 2023 with an Alexander von Humboldt Professorship.


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