Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics
We seek a predictive understanding of intense x-ray and optical interactions with matter. We study new phenomena induced by intense x-ray fields and the control of x-ray interactions using intense optical fields, both theoretically and experimentally. While strong-field interactions in the optical regime have been widely studied, the exploration of strong-field x-ray interactions has been enabled only by the successful turn-on, in April 2009, of the world’s first hard x-ray free electron laser, the LCLS (Linac Coherent Light Source) at SLAC. Understanding the principles behind the control of inner-shell x-ray processes, absorption and scattering, using strong electromagnetic fields (V/Å) is a grand challenge that is experimentally enabled by the co-location of ultrafast optical and laser sources such as at the APS and ALS. As the whole, the program provides a fundamental understanding of combined x-ray and optical interactions and explores methods to control electronic and molecular motion on atomic time and length scales.