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K-State Today

July 27, 2011

Distinguished physicist named one of the top researchers in Kansas

By Communications and Marketing

Chii-Dong Lin, a university distinguished professor of physics at Kansas State University, has been named one of the state's top 150 scientists.

The selection comes through the Ad Astra Kansas Initiative, an organization that throughout the year is spotlighting Kansas researchers, inventors and engineers from the past to the present who have advanced their field. Lin is the eighth active faculty member at K-State to be selected as a top Kansas scientist.

Lin is an internationally recognized expert and pioneer in atomic, molecular and optical physics. His focus is on attosecond physics and new light generation. Attosecond physics is the study and control of the motion of electrons in atoms and molecules in their own natural time scale, which is at nearly a billionth of a billionth of a second. New light generation is an effort to find new tabletop light sources -- ranging from extreme ultraviolet to soft X-rays -- that last only several millionths of a billionth of a second. These light sources will be useful for future biological structural studies where samples can be examined without damaging the tissues.

Lin's research deals with basic scientific issues behind the development of technology for the detection and use of ultrafast light pulses. Work from such studies will enable scientists to control atoms and molecules, Lin said. And as this technology matures, it will have applications in health care, energy and security.

Lin is also the associate director of the J.R. Macdonald Laboratory, K-State's high-profile laboratory for its atomic, molecular and optical physics program -- currently ranked 13th in the country by U.S. News and World Report.

Lin said he was inspired to pursue a career in science, especially physics, because he has always been attracted to the underlying simplicity of physical laws underneath the often intractable phenomena in the physical world.

"As new technologies are developed, new experimental observations will become available," he said. "Once the inner workings of these observations are solved, new controls, and subsequently new technology and applications, will become possible. Solving this scientific puzzle is not just a joy, sometimes it may even be beneficial to society."

Lin earned his bachelor's from National Taiwan University and his doctorate from the University of Chicago. He joined K-State in 1976.

The Ad Astra Kansas Initiative is a Hutchinson-based organization that works toward promoting the scientific accomplishments of Kansas researchers and innovators who work in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Ad Astra's project, "Science in Kansas: 150 Years and Counting," celebrates the state's sesquicentennial. It is meant to emphasize the importance of science and the career possibilities in research and innovation to K-12 students.

Ad Astra has recognized other historically noted Kansas researchers like George Washington Carver, Charles H. Sternberg, Clyde Cessna and Clyde Tombaugh. Lin is the eighth active faculty member at K-State to be selected as a top Kansas scientist.