The Center for Ultrafast Optical Science (CUOS) is an interdisciplinary research center in the College of Engineering at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. CUOS was sponsored as a Science and Technology Center by the National Science Foundation during 1990-2001, and as a College of Engineering Center continues its research in ultrafast optics with funding from a variety of government agencies and industry. Its mission is to perform multidisciplinary research in the basic science and technological applications of ultrashort laser pulses, to educate students from a wide variety of backgrounds in the field, and to spur the development of new technologies.

CUOS researchers develop optical instrumentation and techniques to generate, manipulate, and detect ultrashort and ultrahigh-peak-power light pulses. They use these ultrashort pulses to study ultrafast physical phenomena in atomic, nuclear, plasma, and materials physics, in solid-state electronics, in high-energy-density physics, and in biomedicine.

Ultrafast science & technology is one of the most exciting fields in science and engineering today. Ultrashort laser pulses are the shortest controlled bursts of energy ever developed. Optical pulses of a few femtoseconds (10-15 seconds) duration can be used to probe the fastest events in atomic, molecular, biochemical, and solid-state systems. When amplified to even modest energies, such short pulses can achieve the highest peak powers: the Hercules laser at CUOS holds the world record for on-target laser intensity, at an astonishing 1022 Watts per square centimeter. Ultrashort-pulse fiber lasers enable the highest average powers (100-Watt level) available from pulsed laser systems. These lasers enable a tremendous range of applications in fundamental science and applied technology; further information on these applications may be found on the CUOS Mission and Overview pages, and details of specific research programs may be found under Research Groups.


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