Giving to CREOL
CREOL, The College of Optics & Photonics

PHY5937 - ST: Attosecond Laser Physics

This course is a focused introduction to the emerging field of attosecond optics and its applications. It targets senior undergraduate students and graduate students who want to enter the field.

The organization of the course builds from basic underlying theory to more complex ideas related to attosecond optics. The generation of attosecond optical pulses requires knowledge of femtosecond laser technologies. At the same time, the mechanisms of attosecond pulse generation are quite different from those of femtosecond lasers. We explain these mechanisms using both semiclassical models and quantum mechanics theories. We introduce the technique for generating attosecond train first. Then we explain gating methods for extracting single isolated pulses. Finally, we provide illustrative examples of attosecond applications.


  • Undergraduate level electricity and magnetism, or graduate level electrodynamics
  • Undergraduate level quantum mechanics

For example:

  • PHY4324 Electricity and Magnetism or PHY5346 Electrodynamics I, or OSE 5041 Optical Wave Propagation, or OSE 6525 Laser Engineering, or equivalent
  • PHY5606 Quantum Mechanics I, or OSE6349 Applied Quantum Mechanics for Optics and Engineering

Course assignments/exams:

  • 11 homework assignments. 30 pts from the 10 best homework grades (lowest one is dropped)
  • 3 tests. 30 pts from the 2 best exam grades (lowest one is dropped)
  • Final exam. Comprehensive. 40 pts

Grading procedures:

A: 90-100 pts
B: 80-89 pts
C: 70-79 pts
D: 60-69 pts
F: <60 pts (Fail)

Textbook: Fundamentals of Attosecond Optics by Zenghu Chang. Publishing date: 2/18/2011.


  • Chapter 1 describes the motivations of attosecond research, including a brief review of the history and explanation of the connection between attosecond pulses and high harmonic generation.
  • Chapters 2 and 3 focus on driving lasers as key tools used in attosecond generation. As most high power lasers are based on chirped pulse amplification, we discuss it first, followed by details on how to generate few-cycle pulses. Chapter 3 looks at carrier-envelope phase stabilization.
  • Chapters 4 and 5 set the theoretical foundations for single atom response. We first introduce the intuitive semiclassical model, and then discuss quantum theory that describes the dipole phase.
  • Chapter 6 discusses propagation effects, introducing several approaches for improving phase matching.
  • Chapters 7 and 8 turn to attosecond pulse generation and characterization, covering two types of light sources: attosecond pulse train and single isolated pulses.
  • Chapter 9 gives several examples of experimental applications of attosecond pulses.
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