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News Release

Number: 03-75
Released: October 15, 2003
Contact: Diane Greenberg, 631 344-2347 or Mona S. Rowe, 631 344-5056

Brookhaven Lab Physicist Wins 2003
Free Electron Laser Prize

Upton, NY – Li Hua Yu, a physicist at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory, has won the 2003 Free Electron Laser (FEL) Prize sponsored by the 25th International Free Electron Laser Conference. Yu received the award, which consists of $3,000, a certificate and a plaque, at the FEL conference held this year in Tsukuba, Japan.

Li Hua Yu with FEL Prize  (Click on photo to download hi-resolution, 300-dpi jpeg.)

Yu’s award was given “in recognition of his outstanding contributions to FEL science and technology.” Over the last 20 years, Yu and colleagues from Brookhaven contributed significantly in developing two types of lasers that are important for scientific investigations: the self-amplified spontaneous emission free electron laser (SASE FEL), and the high gain harmonic generation free electron laser (HGHG FEL).

In the SASE process, the light the laser emits for experiments starts from noise, or random signals. In contrast, in the HGHG process, the output light starts from fast-moving electrons interacting with a seeding laser that shifts the light to a higher frequency and makes it significantly more coherent, meaning electrons move in a coordinated way to emit light. The intense light of the HGHG FEL reveals the fine details of atomic interactions inside materials and the very fast motions of molecules in chemical reactions, all with an unsurpassed precision.

Yu explained, “The HGHG FEL combines the intensity and coherence of a laser with the broad spectrum of light available in a synchrotron, a type of accelerator. The invention of the laser provided a revolutionary source of coherent light that created many new fields of scientific research. The development of the HGHG FEL extends the reach of lasers to much shorter wavelengths, thus opening new research opportunities.”

Yu continued, “I am very happy to receive this award, and I am grateful for Brookhaven Lab’s support and the excellent team who worked with me to make the HGHG FEL at Brookhaven the first and only one of its kind in the world.”

At Brookhaven’s Accelerator Test Facility in 1999, Brookhaven scientists, in collaboration with Argonne National Laboratory researchers, verified the theoretical foundation of the HGHG FEL operating in the infrared region of the light spectrum. In 2002, the technique was further developed to enable the HGHG FEL at Brookhaven to produce shorter wavelength light in the deep ultraviolet spectral region. This enabled researchers to perform new chemistry experiments.

The HGHG FEL may be a complementary research tool to synchrotrons around the world, including the National Synchrotron Light Source (NSLS) at Brookhaven. Used by approximately 2,500 researchers from around the world each year for a wide range of experiments, the NSLS generates high-intensity light — from infrared to ultraviolet to x-rays — for investigating materials as diverse as catalysts used in refining petroleum, microcircuits in computers, and proteins used in drug design.

Brookhaven’s Laboratory Directed Research and Development Program, the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, and the U.S. Air Force funded Yu’s research on the DUV-FEL.

Li Hua Yu earned his undergraduate degree from Jilin University in China in 1970. He earned both an M.S. and Ph.D. in physics from Stony Brook University in 1980 and 1984, respectively. In 1984, he joined Brookhaven Lab as a research associate, and he rose through the ranks to become a senior physicist, in 2000. With a team of eight scientists and engineers from Brookhaven, Yu won an R&D 100 Award from R&D Magazine in 1989 for inventing the Real-Time Harmonic Closed-Orbit Feedback System, which stabilizes the orbit of electron beams in synchrotrons.