Paul Corkum

Paul Bruce Corkum OC OOnt FRSC FRS (born October 30, 1943) is a Canadian physicist specializing in attosecond physics and laser science.[1] He holds a joint University of OttawaNRC chair in Attosecond Photonics.[1] He is one of the students of strong field atomic physics, i.e. atoms and plasmas in super-intense laser fields.

Paul B. Corkum
Born (1943-10-30) October 30, 1943
Alma materAcadia University
Lehigh University
Known forDeveloping ultra-rapid laser technology
Scientific career
FieldsAttosecond physics
Laser science
InstitutionsUniversity of Ottawa

Biography and research

Corkum was born in Saint John, New Brunswick.[2] He obtained his BSc (1965) from Acadia University, Nova Scotia, and his MSc (1967) and PhD (1972) in theoretical physics from Lehigh University, Pennsylvania.[2][3] He won several awards for his work on laser science.

Corkum is both a theorist and an experimentalist. In the 1980s he developed a model of the ionization of atoms (i.e. plasma production) and on this basis proposed a new approach to making X-ray lasers (Optical field Ionization, OFI). OFI lasers are today one of the most important developments in X-ray laser research.

In the early 1990s in strong field atomic physics there were discoveries of high harmonic generation and correlated double ionization (in which an atom can absorb hundreds of photons and emit two electrons). Corkum's Recollision Electron Model[4] served as the basis for the generation of attosecond pulses from lasers. With this method in 2001 Corkum with colleagues in Vienna succeeded in demonstrating for the first time laser pulse lengths lasting less than 1 femtosecond.[5] The method was used for the generation of higher harmonics and (as a type of laser tunneling microscope) for exploration of atoms and molecules in the angstrom range and below.

Corkum's recollision electron physics has led to many advances in understanding the interactions among coherent electrons, coherent light, and coherent atoms or molecules. The recollision electron can be thought of as an electron interferometer built by laser light generated from atoms or molecules. As an interferometer, the recollision electron can be used to measure atomic and molecular orbitals by means of interfering waves from the bound electrons and the recollision electrons.

From 1997 to 2009, he was the adjunct professor of physics at McMaster University.



Selected works

  • Corkum PB (1993). "Plasma perspective on strong field multiphoton ionization". Physical Review Letters. 71 (13): 1994–1997. Bibcode:1993PhRvL..71.1994C. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.71.1994. PMID 10054556.
  • with N. H. Burnett, M. Y. Ivanov: Corkum, P. B.; Burnett, N. H.; Ivanov, M. Y. (1994). "Subfemtosecond pulses". Optics Letters. 19 (22): 1870–1872. Bibcode:1994OptL...19.1870C. doi:10.1364/OL.19.001870. PMID 19855681.
  • with H. Niikura, F. Legaré, R. Hasbani, M. Ivanov, D. Villeneuve: Niikura H, Légaré F, Hasbani R, Ivanov MY, Villeneuve DM, Corkum PB (2003). "Probing molecular dynamics with attosecond resolution using correlated wave packet pairs". Nature. 421 (6925): 826–829. Bibcode:2003Natur.421..826N. doi:10.1038/nature01430. PMID 12594508.
  • with Ferenc Krausz: Corkum, P. B.; Krausz, Ferenc (2007). "Attosecond Science". Nature Physics. 3 (6): 381–387. Bibcode:2007NatPh...3..381C. doi:10.1038/nphys620.
  • with Chandrasekhar Joshi: Joshi, Chandrashekhar J.; Corkum, Paul (January 1995). "Interaction of ultra-intense laser light with matter" (PDF). Physics Today. 48 (1): 36. Bibcode:1995PhT....48a..36J. doi:10.1063/1.881451. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-02-25.
  • with Donna Strickland: Strickland, D.; Corkum, P. B. (1994). "Resistance of short pulses to self-focusing". JOSA B. 11 (3): 492–497. doi:10.1364/JOSAB.11.000492.


  1. "Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering" (Press release). NSERC. 16 March 2009., as published in Physics in Canada, 65(2) 58.
  2. "Paul Corkum, Jean-Marie Dufour, B. Brett Finlay, Roderick Guthrie and Susan Sherwin to receive $100,000 Killam Prizes for 2006" (Press release). Canadian Council for the Arts. 27 March 2006. Archived from the original on 19 February 2008. Retrieved 2009-06-30.
  3. "Paul Corkum". Institute for Quantum Computing. Retrieved 2009-06-30.
  4. Corkum, Paul (March 2011). "Recollision Physics" (PDF). Physics Today. 64 (3): 36–41. Bibcode:2011PhT....64c..36C. doi:10.1063/1.3563818.
  5. Hentschel, M.; et al. (29 Nov 2001). "Attosecond metrology". Nature. 414 (6863): 509–513. Bibcode:2001Natur.414..509H. doi:10.1038/35107000.
  6. Royal Medal 2017
  8. King Faisal Prize 2013 - Physics
  9. "Current Winner: Paul Corkum" (Press release). NSERC. 16 March 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-30.
  10. "Paul Corkum receives NSERC's prestigious Polanyi Award" (Press release). University of Ottawa. 3 March 2008. Archived from the original on 14 August 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-30.
  11. "New Appointees to the Order of Ontario". January 23, 2014.
  12. "Paul Corkum – Biography". Joint Attosecond Science Laboratory. Retrieved 2010-09-23.
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