Thomas Donnelly, PhD, uses ultrafast laser pulses as a tool for exploring nature. Ultrafast lasers produce pulses that blink on and off in a millionth of a billionth of a second, so a pulse can be used as a stop-motion flash with exquisite time-resolution. Alternatively, a pulse can be amplified to generate high-intensity light pulses and then used to deposit energy into a material to create high-energy-density states of matter.
Donnelly’s research group studies the interaction of high-intensity laser light with novel microstructured targets. They develop machines that are capable of producing micron and sub-micron sized targets to study topics such as laser-driven nuclear fusion and the heating mechanisms that allow laser energy to be absorbed on short timescales by solid-density materials. Donnelly’s research group builds, characterizes and does science with machines at Harvey Mudd College, and with collaborators at the University of Texas at Austin, where they have access to some of the most powerful laser systems ever built.
- hmc.edu, 5/23/19 Physics Professor Awarded Mudd Prize
- NPR, 1/19/15 Why Ants Handle Traffic Better Than You Do
- Forbes, 9/8/14 Transforming Today’s College Students Into Future Leaders
- hmc.edu, 10/15/13 Donnelly Gets NSF Grant to Answer Plasma Physics Energy Question