We chat to Dr Barry Bruner from the Weizmann Institute of Science about his work in ultrafast science, high harmonic generation and his love of baseball.
Q: Which research projects are you and your group currently working on?
Our group studies basic phenomena in strong field light-matter interactions, focusing in particular on the generation and measurement of attosecond processes. Through the use of High Harmonic Generation – XUV light emitted via the interaction of a strong laser pulse with matter – we investigate ultrafast (femtosecond and subfemtosecond) electronic dynamics in atoms and molecules.
Q: What motivated you to pursue this field of research?
My graduate school background is in ultrafast science, so I have long since been interested in the study of the fastest processes that scientists are able to measure. The study of attosecond processes and high harmonic generation is a relatively new direction in ultrafast science and there are many as yet unexplored directions. In particular, using high harmonic generation, we believe that we can achieve Angstrom scale spatial resolution and subfemtosecond temporal resolution in a single experiment.
Q: Where do you think the field is heading?
Until now, most experiments have been performed using atoms or simple molecules. The long term goal must be to apply what we have learned to increasingly more complex molecules.
Dr Bruner discusses U Lev et al 2015 J. Phys. B: At. Mol. Opt. Phys. 48 201001
Q: What interests you outside of science?
Baseball and music are my two main addictions. I was born in Toronto and have been a die hard fan of our major league baseball team since I was nine years old.
Q: What do you find to be the most rewarding aspect of your job?
The opportunity to work with many talented scientists from around the world. Science is a truly international discipline and must continue to be so in order to flourish. I learn so much when I attend conferences and through our collaborations with students and researchers from abroad.
Q: What would you say to a student who wanted to shape their future with a career in science?
I would tell them to be sure to find their niche before pursuing a career in science. Don’t try to latch onto a field just because it appears to be a hot topic that’s getting a lot of attention. Find a field that motivates you where you believe you can make a contribution.
On behalf of JPhysB I would like to thank Dr Bruner for answering our questions and for recently publishing “Quantum control of photodissociation using intense, femtosecond pulses shaped with third order dispersion” in our journal.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License
Image 1 and front image: copyright Barry Bruner; used with permission.
Video: Video abstract, from U Lev et al 2015 J. Phys. B: At. Mol. Opt. Phys. 48 201001