Dr. Paul Corkum is the co-recipient of the prestigious BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Awards in Basic Sciences for pioneering studies of ultrafast processes and breakthroughs in attosecond physics. He shares the award with European physicists Dr. Ferenc Krausz and Dr. Anne L'Huillier.
They have shown how to observe and control the motion of electrons in atoms, molecules and solids with ultrashort light pulses on time scales of about one hundred attoseconds. One attosecond lasts one billionth of a billionth of a second. It is approximately the time for light to travel across an atom and is the natural scale for electronic motion in matter. This time scale was previously inaccessible to experimental studies due to the lack of light pulses with short enough duration.
"Paul Corkum developed experiments and an intuitive physical picture for short wavelength light generation, which ultimately allowed the imaging of molecular orbitals," noted the awards jury. "These groundbreaking contributions have opened exciting new frontiers in different areas, including atomic physics, photochemistry and materials science."
Dr. Corkum is a distinguished professor at the University of Ottawa, principal research officer at the NRC, and co-director of the NRC-uOttawa Joint Centre for Extreme Photonics. He is a pioneer in the development of attosecond science and has received many prestigious awards and professional honours, including the Wolf Prize in Physics.
The BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Awards are intended to recognize basic research and creative work of excellence as embedded in theoretical advances, models and fundamental perspectives for an improved understanding of the natural, social and artificial or technological worlds, technological innovations and developments, and the creation of outstanding works or new artistic or interpretative styles in contemporary classical music.