Uwe Thumm

Professor of physics

Uwe ThummResearch by Uwe Thumm, professor of physics, has proved essential to his field. He has collaborated with numerous researchers worldwide and holds several patents. He has contributed nearly 80 published works in refereed journals and books, and more than 190 reports and abstracts that stretch back more than two decades.

For his contributions to physics, Thumm was elected a fellow of the American Physical Society in 2011.

Thumm's research interests include modeling, theory and numerical computation of interactions between electrons, ions and intense laser light with atoms, molecules, clusters and solid surfaces. His many contributions have been in different areas of theoretical atomic physics research, including relativistic R-matrix calculations for electron-atom scattering and negative-ion resonances; the numerical modeling of ion-atom and surface interactions, multiple electron emission and transfer in interactions of highly-charged ions with surfaces and clusters; and the study of the interactions of atoms, carbon-nanotubes and surfaces with ultrashort, intense laser pulses. He conducts his research at K-State's J.R. Macdonald Laboratory.

In one of his current research projects, Thumm’s theoretical research describes novel experiments that use ultrafast laser pulses to follow the motion of electrons in atoms and molecules in time, and to steer the electrons in a hydrogen molecule. The combination of such laser experiments and theoretical modeling of how laser light interacts with electrons and probes their motion is part of the new research branch called attosecond physics.

This field of research is about to allow researchers to make "atomic movies" of the electronic motion in atoms and molecules and of the formation of chemical bonds. The field derives its names from the time it typically takes an atomic electron to circle the atomic nucleus -- about one attosecond, or one billionth of one billionth of a second.

Since the formation and breaking of chemical bonds is the basis for chemistry, biochemistry and life as we know it, attosecond science is expected to have far-reaching consequences beyond atomic and laser physics research. It could also enable physicists to one day tailor molecules to improve health care, energy and security.

Thumm has taught a wide variety of courses, including general physics, engineering physics, laser-matter interactions, statistical mechanics, advanced dynamics and quantum mechanics. In addition to teaching, he has worked with undergraduate and graduate physics students and postdoctoral research associates on various research projects.

Thumm earned a master of science degree and a doctorate from the University of Freiburg in Freiburg in Germany. He has spent sabbaticals at the University of Freiburg, the Max-Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg, Germany, and at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Thumm has also organized physicist meetings held at Harvard and K-State.

Thumm can be reached at 785-532-1613 or thumm@phys.ksu.edu.

Pronouncer: Uwe is OOH-ve -- with the "e" as in Emily, and Thumm sounds like tomb.