The development of the basic scientific advances and applications that will transform society in the next two decades, in areas as diverse as nanotechnology, nuclear science and medicine, received a boost recently when the National Science Foundation announced the establishment of a Physics Frontier Center at the University. The project is funded with $15 million over a five-year period.
Called FOCUSFrontiers in Optical Coherent and Ultrafast Sciencethe Center is expected to give leading researchers in a variety of fields the opportunity to work together and share knowledge.
Were looking at areas that cover a tremendous range of scientific disciplines, says Center director Philip Bucksbaum. But while they seem very different, the one thing they have in common is the need for a high degree of control, usually through laser light. Often they require ultrafast lasers with very short pulses, sometime on the scale of single optical cycles.
FOCUS includes 19 faculty and research scientists at the U-M and the University of Texas. Its mission is to provide leadership in coherent control in quantum, ultrafast and high-field physics. Many of the leading researchers in these fields are already at these two schools. That certainly helped our case with NSF, Bucksbaum says.
Sharing knowledge is central to the Centers mission, Bucksbaum says, and a number of mechanisms will be employed to disseminate information. These include traditional publications and also a virtual journal that will quickly distribute new research results. FOCUS also operates a visitors program, which will give researchers access to the state-of-the-art high-field laser systems developed in the center.
Work in the center will be divided into three major research components: