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K-State Today

April 5, 2022

James R. Macdonald Laboratory awarded College of Arts and Sciences’ 2022 Karen Ann Griffith Research Award

Submitted by College of Arts and Sciences

The Kansas State University College of Arts and Sciences has presented its 2022 Karen Ann Griffith Research Award to the James R. Macdonald Laboratory.

The award will support further research endeavors by the investigators at the laboratory, which is one of the most active centers for atomic, molecular and optical physics in the U.S. The lab’s grant funding has been repeatedly renewed for nearly 50 years, most recently at $2.65 million per year.

“The continued success of the lab is a team effort,” said Brett Esry, lab director.

The laboratory's faculty members carry out a wide range of basic experimental and theoretical research in molecular physics and ultrafast chemistry. Their work focuses on three main areas:

  • Understanding the correlated motion of electrons and nuclei within a molecule.
  • Developing attosecond-resolution spectroscopies capable of revealing electronic dynamics on its natural timescale.
  • Using X-ray light sources such as the Linac Coherent Light Source at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory to explore ultrafast charge transfer and charge migration in molecules.

These overlapping and synergistic activities seek to characterize the ultrafast dynamics of prototypical chemical transformations with high fidelity using state-of-the-art laser facilities at the James R. Macdonald Laboratory in addition to large-scale light sources combined with some of the most detailed measurement methods currently available. Together with in-house theoretical analysis, the goal is to achieve the depth of understanding needed to eventually direct and control electrons, nuclei and energy in matter at the quantum-mechanical level to enable the next generation of technological advances critical for such key directions as solar energy conversion, photocatalysis, artificial photosynthesis, and molecular electronics.

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