Prof. F. Ömer Ilday, of the Electrical and Electronics Engineering Department and the Physics Department at Bilkent University, has been awarded a European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Grant.
Dr. Ilday’s project, titled “UniLase: Second modelocking for a universal material-processing laser,” aims to create a laser unlike others to date and to generate a crystal of light – a perfectly periodic array of ultrafast pulses that are self-assembled and held together by their mutual interactions. The pulses of within this crystal of light will be strongly correlated, possibly constituting a single coherent waveform. If so, they have the lowest quantum noise of any pulsed laser to date. These unique lasers could exploit the ablation-cooled regime, also invented by Dr. Ilday, for ultra-efficient cutting of any material and may, one day, enable painless laser surgery and dentistry. The idea of second modelocking was born out of an analogy between laser physics and self-organization, which Dr. Ilday developed in his previous ERC Projects, NLL and SUPERSONIC. Moreover, the physics of the proposed laser is analogous, in name and concept, to second quantization that underlies modern theoretical physics. By exploring the new conceptual connections, Dr. Ilday aims to advance our fundamental understanding of complex systems with implications that may reach well beyond laser physics.