University of Colorado at Boulder │ Boulder, Colorado
With Margaret M. Murnane, for their pioneering innovations that have made high-intensity sources of x-rays practical and widely available for the study of a broad range of physical processes, including chemical reactions, at the quadrillionth-of-a-second time scale.
Long before “laser focus” became a cliché, physicists Henry Kapteyn and Margaret Murnane were laser-focused. During the last 35 years, Kapteyn and Murnane have been close partners in laser research and in life. Together they are happy to work long hours, especially if they are on the verge of a breakthrough, and to talk physics (nearly) all the time. Kapteyn and Murnane credit their intense teamwork, with each other and with colleagues, for the remarkable breakthroughs they’ve made in lasers and light. Today the Kapteyn-Murnane Group at the University of Colorado at Boulder are leaders in the blossoming field of coherent ultra-fast x-ray laser light sources. Their groundbreaking research on laser light, published in more than 250 research papers, has impacted virtually every area of science from biology to astronomy, lighting the way for numerous applications such as high-resolution imaging of something as small as a virus, making and breaking chemical bonds, lensless imaging, and energy-efficient electronics. They have even succeeded in shrinking down high-intensity x-ray lasers so they can now fit on tabletops, which makes them more accessible and more affordable for a wider breadth of labs and research areas across the globe.