Skip to content Skip to navigation

Phil Bucksbaum

Principal Investigator

How can we observe atomic and molecular processes on the shortest relevant time scales, from attoseconds to picoseconds? What can we learn about atomic motion and molecular bonds with these tools?

Professor Bucksbaum studies time-dependent quantum processes in atoms and molecules, from the passage of electrons across atoms in a few hundredattoseconds (billionths of a billionth of a second), to the bending and breaking of molecular bonds during collisions or chemical reactions in a few picoseconds (millionths of a millionth of a second). These observations are made using novel laser sources, some of which are unique to Stanford. The world’s first X-ray free electron laser at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory began to operate in 2009.  It allows us to view atomic motion on the atomic time scale in both space and time for the first time.

Current areas of focus:
Attosecond Physics
- Ultrafast Quantum Control of Molecular Processes
- Strong Field laser-matter interactions


  • 2009-present: Marguerite Blake Wilbur Professorship in Natural Science
  • 2005-present: Director, Ultrafast Science Center; Professor, Stanford University (Department of Applied Physics, and Department of Physics)
  • 2004-2005: Visiting Scholar, Stanford Department of Applied Physics and Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory.
  • Otto Laporte Collegiate Professor of Physics, University of Michigan
  • Director of FOCUS, the NSFCenter for the Advancement of Frontiers in Optical Coherent Ultrafast Science
  • Editor of VJUltrafast, the APS Virtual Journal of Ultrafast Science.
  • 9/90-8/98 Professor of Physics, University of Michigan.
  • 11/82-8/90 Principal Investigator Member of Technical Staff, Physics Research Division, AT&T Bell Laboratories, Murray Hill, NJ 07974.
  • 1/89-8/90 Adjunct Associate Professor of Applied Physics, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027.
  • 8/80-11/82 Post-doctoral research at AT&T Bell Laboratories, Holmdel, NJ 07733, and at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratories, Berkeley, CA 94720.
  • Ph.D. (1980) and M.A. (1978) in Physics from the University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720.
  • A.B. (1975) magna cum laude in Physics, Harvard College, Cambridge, MA 02138.