MacArthur Fellows Program

Margaret Murnane

Optical Physicist | Class of 2000

Optical Physicist
Boulder, Colorado
41 at time of award
Area of Focus
Published July 1, 2000

About Margaret's Work

Margaret Murnane’s work advances our understanding of optical physics.

She has made important strides in three aspects of laser pulse generation: brevity, power, and frequency. In particular, Murnane’s research helped optimize the design of a titanium-doped, sapphire laser cavity, furthering our understanding of the physical basis for the interaction of light and matter. Additionally, her research group has shown that the generation of laser-like beams of X-rays can be dramatically enhanced as the stimulating pulse duration decreases. Developing such X-ray sources is already providing enormous practical benefits for capturing the smallest and fastest events in the nanoworld and may also find future application in high-resolution imaging of living, biological specimens. In combination, her work advances the physical basis for the interaction of light and matter.


Murnane is a professor of physics, electrical and computer engineering, and materials science at the University of Colorado and is a Fellow of JILA, an interdisciplinary research group composed of scientists from the University of Colorado and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. She has held faculty positions at Washington State University (1990-1995) and the University of Michigan (1996-1999). Her articles have appeared in such journals as Nature and Science.

Murnane received a B.S. (1981) and an M.S. (1983) from University College Cork, in Ireland, and a Ph.D. (1989) from the University of California, Berkeley.

Last updated June 2014

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