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K-State Today

September 25, 2012



Physicist receives two prestigious awards to support research, purchase world-class laser system

By Communications and Marketing

Carlos Trallero, assistant professor of physics, has been honored with two prestigious national awards for his research that will develop a deeper understanding of the basic laws of nature at the quantum level.

Trallero recently received a nearly $1 million National Science Foundation Major Research Instrumentation grant and nearly $200,000 from an Air Force Office of Scientific Research Defense University Instrumentation Program grant.

The awards are two of the few instrumentation grants available for physicists in the country and Trallero impressively received both in the same year. He will use the grants to purchase a high-intensity tunable femtosecond laser.

"I'm very honored," said Trallero, who researches in the James R. Macdonald Laboratory. "We hope to develop a world-class laser source right here at Kansas State University."

Trallero will use the one-of-a-kind laser for doing research in molecular physics, particularly in the fields of ultrafast physics and attosecond science. He wants to better understand how molecules and atoms evolve in fast time scales. The new laser system will also enable researchers to study a new type of laser light only used by a handful of laboratories around the world.

"We are on the front end of research worldwide," Trallero said. "Purchasing this new laser will have huge implications for us, because a lot of experiments we want to do are limited by the kind of laser that we have. This will open a lot of new doors for research."

The university has already provided $500,000 for infrastructure development and renewal of existing Macdonald Laboratory space to prepare for the new laser source. The university's commitment was essential to obtaining the external funding, Trallero said.

Kansas State University collaborators on the project include Itzik Ben-Itzhak, university distinguished professor and director of the Macdonald Laboratory; Kevin Carnes, associate director for operations at the Macdonald Laboratory and associate research professor; Matthias Kling, assistant professor; and Vinod Kumarappan, assistant professor.

Collaborating schools include the University of Kansas, Louisiana State University and Augustana College in South Dakota.