At CLEOConference, the OpticaFoundation and Coherent recognized the winner of the 2024 Couillaud Prize in Ultrafast Lasers: Václav Hanus, HUN-REN Wigner RCP, Hungary for his plans to advance solid state carrier-envelope phase (CEP) detection and its commercial applications.

vaclav hanus


Couillaud Prize recognizes early career scientists that contributed to research that offers a promise to advance the field of ultrafast lasers and help to solve real-world challenges. During my scientific work so far, I walked a research path that utilized very short laser pulses of duration so short that only a few cycles of the optical field fit in the pulse. Thanks to their shortness, the field in the pulse can be highly asymmetric and this way it can impose certain direction on processes which it induces. The asymmetry of the field is also known as carrier-envelope phase (CEP). It can for example cause a charge migration to one side of a molecule instead of the other or induce a directed electric current in a glass. Such pulses are already routinely generated by contemporary technology and the field asymmetry control is possible utilizing CEP stabilization.

In a typical experiment laser is focused with a mirror to high intensities and the laser pulses hit the target one after another. As the CEP is stabilized, the field asymmetry evolution from one pulse to another is known and can be controlled. However, the research on these few-cycle pulses shows that despite the pulse-to-pulse change is known and defined, the pulses vary significantly from one point of space to another. This spatial inhomogeneity hinders large scale experiments and I consider this to be a real challenge for potential applications of laser-matter interaction. Therefore, I developed an easy-to-implement scheme to measure the spatial distribution of the CEP and I proposed a way to control it (work published in Nature Communications journal). 

Couillaud prize of 2024 recognizes the importance of my findings and encourages the progress in detection of CEP in space. Motivated by this award I will transfer a scientific proof-of-concept into a laser technology and provoke a discussion of this topic that should encourage more progress and development in the direction of laser field control and applications of related technology.