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Coherent light brightens the frontier of quantum science and technology



Jun Ye, Margaret Murnane


The precise control of coherent light across a vast spectral span has enabled revolutionary progress in precision measurements and the quantum control of atomic, molecular, and condensed matter systems. The laser was invented about 60 years ago (1) — 30 years after the founding of RMP. That novel light source opened up new windows to our natural world and transformed our understanding of many areas of science. Now in the 21st century, our ability to control every aspect of light – phase, spectrum, waveform, pulse duration, polarization, and individual photons – can be used to coherently probe and manipulate quantum systems. Topics on the frontiers of research include quantum communication via entangled photons, probing and manipulating quantum materials using ultrafast pulses, long-baseline interferometers for gravitational wave detection, and precision spectroscopies with ultrahigh spectral and temporal resolution. Indeed, the recent and triumphant scientific progress in coherent light sources requires the ultimate quantum control over light, atoms, molecules, and solid-state environments, a feat accomplished by the strong synergy between fundamental science and innovative technologies.
Physics Today


Coherent light, stable laser, ultrafast


Ye, J. and Murnane, M. (2019), Coherent light brightens the frontier of quantum science and technology, Physics Today, [online], (Accessed July 22, 2024)


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Created February 1, 2019, Updated January 27, 2020