Optics

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Light is a central phenomenon in our life, and optics – the research of light - is one of the oldest areas in science, investigated since Archimedes and Ptolemy, and probably even earlier. Seemingly the field is well established, leaning on a solid theory for over 150 years (Maxwell equations), and little is left to be found. In spite of this, and perhaps because of it, the field is vibrant to this day in both basic science and cutting edge technology. The greatest controversies in science revolved around light (Huygens - Newton, Einstein - Bohr), and the most significant technological breakthroughs of recent decades engaged in light (from the laser to the Blu-Ray).

Despite remarkable progress both scientifically and technologically, we are surprised to find repeatedly how little we know about light. Even the most basic question - what is light, particle or wave? - received contradictory answers throughout history, and stands at the heart of modern quantum optics research. Investigation of the interaction between light and matter is an endless source for development of new tools for measuring the properties of matter and to precisely control it. The use of light to cool atoms to the absolute zero temperature (almost) is just one example. New light sources that emit ultrashort pulses of femtosecond (10-15s) duration, or even less, allow the study of the nonlinear interaction between light and matter and led for example to the development of the most accurate atomic clocks. Experimental research in almost any field of science relies on optical tools, from biology to chemistry to semiconductor electronics. The development of new methods for imaging, visualization and optical testing constantly drives research in bio-physics and physical engineering.

The department of Physics in Bar Ilan University drew to it a dynamic and vibrant collection of experimental and theoretical groups performing research in the forefront of optics: Nonlinear optics, atomic physics and lasers (Michael Rosenbluh), Quantum optics and optical precision metrology (Avi Pe'er), Atom cooling and Bose - Einstein condensation (Lev Khaykovich), Biophysics and advanced microscopy (Yuval Garini), Biophysical fluorescence spectroscopy and using light as a clinical tool (Benjamin Ehrenberg), Confocal microscopy and optical tweezing of colloids (Eli Sloutskin), Microscopy and spectroscopy of normal and cancerous cells (Moti Deutsch), Interaction of light with single emitters and single molecule spectroscopy (Eli Barkai), Wave propagation in disordered media and localization (Valentin Freilikher), Synchronization, chaos and phase transitions in systems of coupled lasers (Ido Kanter).

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