UCF Distinguished Professor Receives Florida’s Only MURI Award

zenghu changZenghu Chang, a Distinguished Professor of Physics and Optics, is the only Florida researcher to receive the Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) awards from the US Department of Defense, in Fiscal Year 2014.

Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) efforts involve teams of researchers investigating high priority topics and opportunities that intersect more than one traditional technical discipline. For many military problems this multidisciplinary approach serves to stimulate innovations, accelerate research progress and expedite transition of results into naval applications.

MURI awards are made in research topics specified by the participating defense agencies each year that the program is in force. Specified topics change each year. Awards are typically for a period of three years (funded incrementally or as options) with two additional years possible as options to bring the total award to five-years, and at a funding level ranging from half a million to about a million dollars per year, with the size of the award dependent upon the topic, technical goals, and availability of appropriations.

Twenty four awards were selected from an initial 661 white papers. Chang is the lead principal investigator on the $7.5 million program “Studying Ultrafast Electron Dynamics in Condensed Matter with Next Generation Attosecond X-ray Sources.” The goal is to generate the shortest laser pulses, 10 attoseconds, to better understand the movements of electrons in semiconductors and other materials, leading eventually to ever-faster computers and electronic devices. He is also a co-principal investigator on a $6.25 million MURI program “Post-Born-Oppenheimer Dynamics Using Isolated Attosecond Pulses,” led by UC Berkeley. In addition, he was awarded an $8 million DARPA program last year for developing  microjoule-level isolated attosecond pulses for atto pump-atto probe.

Chang graduated from Xi’an Jiaotong University in 1982. He earned a doctorate at the Xi’an Institute of Optics and Precision Mechanics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, in 1988. He joined the physics faculty at Kansas State University in 2001, where he was later promoted to the Ernest & Lillian Chapin Chair Professor. Chang joined UCF in 2010. He is the director of the newly established Institute for the Frontier of Attosecond Science and Technology (iFAST).  Chang is a fellow of the American Physical Society and the Optical Society of America.

Dr. Chang has published 160 papers in the field of ultrafast high power lasers, ultrafast X-ray science and strong field physics. He is the author of the book “Fundamentals of Attosecond Optics.” His notable contributions include inventing the Double Optical Gating for the generation of single isolated attosecond pulses. His group generated the shortest laser pulse, 67 as, which is the current world record.

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