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Lehigh University alumnus vying for 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics

Paul Corkum ’67G ’72 Ph.D., one of Lehigh’s most distinguished alumni and the so-called “father of attosecond molecular imaging,” is among the top contenders for the 2015 Nobel Prize for Physics. Corkum specializes in attosecond physics and laser science, and is recognized as one of the world's leading experts in strong field atomic physics.

Corkum’s consideration by the Nobel Committee is recognition for work toward developing attosecond lasers, in collaboration with Hungarian-Austrian physicist Ferenc Krausz. These lasers fire bursts of light in attoseconds, or 1/1,000,000,000,000,000,000 of a second -- pulsing so quickly that they can be used to measure chemical reactions at the molecular level, and activities of individual electrons within atoms.

Corkum holds a joint chair in attosecond photonics at the National Research Council of Canada and the University of Ottawa. He is recipient of numerous Canadian and international awards, including Canada’s Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal and its Killam Prize, as well as the the Arthur L. Schawlow Prize in Laser Science from the American Physical Society, the King Faisal International Prize for Science, and the Harvey Prize from the Israel Institute of Technology. In 2009, he was elected a member of the U.S. Academy of Science.

Corkum holds a B.S. from Acadia University in Nova Scotia and an M.S. and Ph.D. from Lehigh. “ I came to Lehigh from a very small college in Nova Scotia,” Dr. Corkum recalled in an interview with Lehigh’s Resolve magazine in 2014. “At Lehigh I shared an office with 4 or 5 other graduate students. I remember us discussing the problems that Professors Bob Folk or Al MacLennan would assign for us to work on. These discussions went well into the night. But we discussed many other issues as well. I learned physics at Lehigh, but I also grew up and learned to think critically.”

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