Benjamin Meaker Visiting Professor Uzy Smilansky, The Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel

Uzy Smilansky profile picture

The distribution of delay-times in scattering of ultra-short pulses from complex targets

14 Sept - 19 Dec


Professor Smilansky received his PhD in 1969 from the Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel. After a post-doctoral training period in Heidelberg he returned to the Weizmann Institute where he was tenured (1976) and promoted to professor (1979). During 1982-85 he served as a chairman of the Nuclear Physics department, and later as the director of the Minerva Center for Nonlinear Physics of Complex Systems and the Albert Einstein Minerva Center for Theoretical Physics. Professor Smilansky spent sabbatical years in prestigious research centres - Berkeley, Oxford, Bristol, Marburg, and Cambridge. He is a member of the German National Academy of Science (Leopoldina) and a recipient of the Bundesverdienstkreuz medal for his contributions to the scientific collaboration between Israel and Germany. After retirement (2007) he was nominated a part time professorial research fellow in Cardiff University (2007-14). He is also a visiting Professor of Archaeology at the Hebrew University (since 2010).

Smilansky’s academic career is highly interdisciplinary, covering a broad spectrum of fields and methods. In nuclear physics he combined experimental and theoretical approaches by developing the theoretical tools needed to analyse the experiments. His work on the semi-classical approximation clarified important issues. Smilansky was one of the first to join the Quantum Chaos community (1985). He made pioneering contributions to various research directions: chaotic scattering, quantum billiards, scattering approach to quantization (the exterior interior duality). He introduced quantum chaos in graphs and made seminal contributions to the studies of nodal networks and domains.

In 2002 Smilansky started to develop computer based methods for archaeological research, concentrating on the taxonomy of small artefacts by their digital images in 3-D, obtained by precise optical scanning. This activity, now integrated in the Archaeology Institute at the Hebrew University, introduced methodologies which are used by most archaeology groups in Israel.

Project Summary

Most scattering experiments of electromagnetic radiation or sub-atomic particles are conducted with monochromatic beams. These beams cannot be used to measure the time evolution in the scattering process. For this one needs a train of coherent, time-narrow pulses which arrive at the target at accurately defined times. They signal the precise time when the interaction between the radiation and the scattering material starts. The scattered radiation consists of time–broadened pulses, which reflect the delay induced while the radiation and the target material interact. Alternatively stated, this is the distribution of the times when the radiation is trapped while scattering. The experimental situation changed dramatically during the last decade when ultra-short light pulses became available. Experiments where light pulses were scattered from atoms were conducted and the resulting delay distributions require theoretical tools: to analyze experiments and plan new ones. This project aims to develop the theoretical tools needed for this emerging field of activity – a problem scarcely addressed previously because it was considered to be practically irrelevant. It is expected that trains of ultra-fast electron pulses will become available soon, and this will open up a plethora of new research problems. The present project is important because it lays the ground for an acutely needed systematic theory where such experiments could be discussed.

During his stay in Bristol, Professor Smilansky will be hosted by Professor Sir Michael Berry (Physics).