B.A., Physics, The College of Wooster, Wooster, Ohio
Ph.D., Physics, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado
Ultrafast and Nonlinear Optics
My research background is in developing new, broadband laser sources in the near-infrared and soft x-ray regions of the electromagnetic spectrum. For my graduate work, I developed a new technique for boosting the efficiency of a nonlinear optical process called high-order harmonic generation (HHG). In HHG, high power, ultrafast laser pulses are upconverted in frequency from the near-IR (800 nm) to the soft x-ray region (~10-50 nm). The technique involves using counterpropagating light pulses to interfere with the conversion process.
The power of this counterpropagating technique is in its flexibility. It can be used in cases where other efficiency promoting techniques are impossible. Currently, I am exploring the application of this technique to second harmonic generation, a process similar to, but more widely used than, HHG.
Since coming to F&M, Etienne Gagnon and I have become interested in an experimental test of Born's rule, which is a fundamental postulate of quantum mechanics. Introduced by Max Born in 1926, Born's rule mathematically defines the strange, probabilistic nature of quantum particles such as electrons of photons. It is extremely accurate in predicting outcomes to experimental measurements, but has neither been definitively derived nor experimentally verified.
We are currently investigating an experiment using light diffraction as an experimental test of Born's rule. The experiment itself is straightforward, similar to ones done in introductory physics labs, but we have discovered that interpretation of its results is even more complicated than originally thought.
Spectrally-Shaped Broadband Excitation of Upconversion
Fluorescence occurs when a medium absorbs one frequency of light and emits another, thus converting the light to a different color. Most often, the emitted light has a lower frequency than the absorbed light. In upconversion, the medium absorbs more than one photon at a time, so that it may emit light of a higher frequency. This process has been used for the development of new laser sources, as well as the study of the dynamics of a process called excited state absorption.
Nearly all studies of excited state absorption to date have used a single-frequency source to drive the absorption. We have recently developed a new technique using a broadband source of light, so that we can excite all available pathways at once. By spectrally-shaping the excitation light, we can gain information more directly about how the absorption occurs.
Engineering Terahertz Sources
I am also collaborating with Etienne Gagnon on his efforts to engineering more efficient and custom sources of light in the terahertz region of the spectrum (between infrared and microwaves). This type of light has been extensively studied recently due to its wide range of applications, including molecular dynamics, optoelectonics, and imaging for security purposes. Photonic tools for using this light, such as mirrors and lenses, are not easily available, however, so there is much work to be done in developing creative ways for manipulating terahertz.
Most recently we have developed a highly efficient and modular optical pulse-shaping technique for creating narrowband sources of Terahertz, and have investigated saturation effects relevant to this pulse-shaping technique.
Grants & Awards
NSF CAREER Award: 2017-2022
Cottrell College Science Award, Research Corporation for Science Advancement: 2012-2014
National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship: 2003-2006
2008 New Focus/ Bookham Student Award Finalist
Selected recent publications (*indicates F&M student co-author):
A. L. Lytle, R. Camuccio*, R. Myer*, A. Penfield*, and E. Gagnon, "Influence of counterpropagating light on phase matching in second harmonic generation," J. Opt. Soc. Am. B 33, 1538 (2016).
E. Gagnon, N. K. Owusu, and A. L. Lytle, "Time evolution of the Coulomb screening effects on terahertz generation at the surface of InAs," J. Opt. Soc. Am. B 33, 367 (2016).
E. Gagnon, J. K. Krebs, and A. L. Lytle, "Selective control of excitation pathways of up-converted fluorescent states using a broadband laser and a spectral mask," J. Opt. Soc. Am. B 32, 633 (2015).
E. Gagnon, C. D. Brown*, and A. L. Lytle, "Effects of detector size and position on a test of Born's rule using a three-slit experiment," Phys. Rev. A 90, 013832 (2014).
A. L. Lytle, E. Gagnon, L. Tulchinsky*, and J. K. Krebs, “Spectrally-shaped Broadband Study of Up-conversion in Y2O3 : Er3+,” J. Lumin. 152, 129 (2014).
S. Adipa*, A. L. Lytle, and E. Gagnon, "High efficiency, modular, optical pulse shaping technique for tunable terahertz generation from InAs," Appl. Phys. Lett. 102, 081106 (2013).
P. Arpin, T. Popmintchev, N. Wagner, A. L. Lytle, O. Cohen, M. M. Murnane, and H. C. Kapteyn, “Enhanced high harmonic generation from multiply ionized argon above 500 eV through laser pulse self-compression,” Phys. Rev. Lett. 103, 143901 (2009).
(Invited) A. L. Lytle, X. Zhang, R. L. Sandberg, O. Cohen, M. M. Murnane, and H. C. Kapteyn, “Quasi-phase matching and characterization of high-order harmonic generation in hollow waveguides using counterpropagating light,” Opt. Express 16, 6544, (2008).
A. L. Lytle, X. Zhang, P. Arpin, O. Cohen, H. C. Kapteyn, and M. M. Murnane, “Quasi- phase matching of high-order harmonic generation at high photon energies using counterpropagating pulses,” Opt. Lett. 33, 174 (2008).
X. Zhang, A. L. Lytle, T. Popmintchev, X. Zhou, M. M. Murnane, H. C. Kapteyn, and O. Cohen, “Quasi-phase matching and quantum path control of high harmonic generation using coun- terpropagating light,” Nature Phys. 3, 270-275 (2007).
A. L. Lytle, X. Zhang, J. Peatross, M. M. Murnane, H. C. Kapteyn, and O. Cohen, “Probe of high- order harmonic generation using counterpropagating light in a hollow waveguide,” Phys. Rev. Lett. 98, 123904 (2007).
(* indicates F&M student co-author)
R. Camuccio,* R. Myer, A. Penfield, E. Gagnon, and A. L. Lytle “All-optical quasi-phase matching of frequency doubling using counterpropagating light,” March Meeting of the American Physical Society, Baltimore, MD, March 2016.
A. L. Lytle, E. Gagnon, and R. Camuccio*, “Controlling Second Harmonic Generation with Coun- terpropagating Light,” OSA Frontiers in Optics/ DLS Laser Science, San Jose, CA, October 2015. Paper JW2A.42
E. Gagnon and A. L. Lytle, “Saturation e↵ects on terahertz generation at the surface of InAs,” OSA Frontiers in Optics/ DLS Laser Science, San Jose, CA, October 2015. Paper FW4A.6
"Controlling Second Harmonic Generation Using Counterpropagating Light," Invited Colloquium, Dickinson College, 25 March 2015
R. Myer*, A. Penfield*, E. Gagnon, and A. L. Lytle, "Enhancing the Conversion Efficiency of Second Harmonic Generation Using Counterpropagating Light," presented at OSA Frontiers in Optics/ DLS Laser Science, Tuscon, AZ, Oct 2014. Paper FTh4C.4.
"Testing the Foundations of Quantum Mechanics Using Light Interference," at the Post-Sabbatical Research Talk series sponsored by the Faculty Center, 7 Oct. 2014
R. Myer*, A. Penfield*, E. Gagnon, and A. L. Lytle, "Influencing the Conversion Efficiency of Second Harmonic Generation Using Counterpropagating Light," presented at Nonlinear Photonics (OSA Advanced Photonics Congress), Barcelona, Spain, July 2014. Paper JM5A.43
C. J. Brown*, E. Gagnon, and A. L. Lytle, “Effect of Detector Size and Position on a Test of Born’s Rule Using a Three-Slit Experiment,” presented at OSA Frontiers in Optics/ DLS Laser Science, Orlando, FL, Oct 2013. Paper FTh1C.
L. Tulchinsky*, A. L. Lytle, E. Gagnon, J. K. Krebs, E. Jonathan*, and A. J. Silversmith, “Optical up-conversion in Er3+ : Y2O3 nanoparticles through spectral masking of broadband pump light,” March Meeting of the American Physical Society, Baltimore, MD, March 2013.
R. Myer,* A. Penfield*, E. Gagnon and A. L. Lytle “All-optical quasi-phase matching of frequency doubling using counterpropagating light,” March Meeting of the American Physical Society, Balti- more, MD, March 2013.
"Encouraging Class Preparation with Screencast Videos," at the Teaching, Learning, and Technology Discussions sponsored by ITS, 14 Nov 2012, with Etienne Gagnon
"Understanding Nuclear Reactors and Radiation Doses," at a panel following the Fukushima reactor disaster, 23 March 2011, with Etienne Gagnon
"Understanding and Manipulating Harmonic Generation," Invited seminar at Millersville University, 2 Feb 2011
Shawn Culbreth '11: Independent Study Spring 2011: Characterization of an Ultrafast Laser
Allison Penfield '13: Hackman Summer Scholar 2011: Increasing the Efficiency of Second Harmonic Generation
Rachel Myer '14: Independent Study Fall 2011: Data Analysis with LabVIEW
Natalie Friedman '12: Independent Study Spring 2012: Data Analysis with LabVIEW
Rachel Myer '14: Hackman Summer Scholar 2012: All-Optical Quasi-Phase Matching with Counterpropagating Light
Lauren Tulchinsky '13: Hackman Summer Scholar 2012: Spectrally-Shaped Broadband Excitation of Upconversion in Rare-Earth Doped Nanocrystals
Rumit Gambhir '15: Hackman Summer Scholar 2013: Experimental Error and Characterization of a Three-Slit Experiment for Testing Born's Rule
Richard Camuccio '16: Hackman Summer Scholar 2015: Enhancing Second Harmonic Generation with Counterpropagating Light
Thomas Lehman-Borer '18: Hackman Summer Scholar 2016, NSF Summer Research 2017: All-Optical Quasi-Phase Matching with Counterpropagating Light
Eric Dyke '19: NSF Summer Research 2018: All-Optical Quasi-Phase Matching with Counterpropagating Light
Conor Larison '21: Independent Study Fall 2018
Fall 2018: CNX 164 Communicating Science
PHY 112 Fundamental Physics II w/Lab
Spring 2018: PHY 111 Fundamental Physics I Lab
PHY 224 Optics
Fall 2017: CNX 150 Quarks to Quasars
Fall 2016: CNX 150 Quarks to Quasars
PHY 112 Fundamental Physics II Lab
Fall 2015: CNX 150 Quarks to Quasars
PHY 112 Fundamental Physics II Lab
Spring 2015: PHY 112 B, D Fundamental Physics II Lab
Fall 2014: PHY 112 Fundamental Physics II w/ Lab
PHY 333 Electric & Magnetic Fields
Fall 2013: PHY 112 Fundamental Physics II w/ Lab
PHY 333 Electric & Magnetic Fields
Fall 2012: PHY 111 A Fundamental Physics I
PHY 333 Electric & Magnetic Fields
Spring 2012: PHY 111C Fundamental Physics Lab
PHY 273 Optics w/ Lab
Fall 2011: PHY 111B, C, D Fundamental Physics Lab
Spring 2011: PHY 111A Fundamental Physics I
Fall 2010: PHY 111C Fundamental Physics I